One of the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Black man who died in police custody last spring, will be tried by a judge instead of a jury, a Maryland judge ruled Tuesday.
Officer Edward Nero, 30, is charged with two counts of misconduct in office, second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment, Reuters reports. He is the second officer to stand trial in Gray’s death. A mistrial was declared in the trial of Officer William Porter, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment.
Judge Barry Williams granted a request from Nero’s lawyers to waive his right to a jury in a pre-trial hearing, Reuters reports. According to legal experts, the news site writes, police officers usually waive their right to a jury with the belief that judges might rule in their favor.
Williams warned Nero that it was difficult to reverse his decision. “You generally can’t turn around and have a jury trial,” he said.
Testimony was set to start on Wednesday, but Williams allowed a one-day delay because of electrical work in prosecutors’ offices. He said the trial could run through at least May 18.
Williams also denied a motion brought by media groups for access to sealed court records, trial transcripts and other documents. But he eased his restriction over transcripts, saying reporters could order them with the exception of bench conferences.
Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after he was unlawfully arrested. After his arrest, the six officers involved placed him in a police transport van without a seatbelt, which most likely led to the “high-energy injury” to his spine.
His death sparked nationwide protests to end police brutality and call for accountability of law enforcement departments.
SOURCE: Reuters | VIDEO SOURCE: Inform