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Prosecution Rests In Trial of Lt. Brian Rice; Judge Drops Assault Charge

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Prosecutors rested their case on Monday afternoon against Lt. Brian Rice, who is charged in connection to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

Rice, who was facing four charges, has been cleared of the assault charged in a ruling by Judge Barry Williams.


WJZ's Mike Hellgren reports Judge Williams also considered dropping the reckless endangerment charged on Monday, but decided against it.

So far the State has stuck to a similar strategy as in past trials where they have yet to win a conviction.

"We know that there were gaps in the evidence that troubled the judge in the other cases and we have yet to see how the state plans to fill those gaps," said David Jaros, University of Baltimore School of Law.

RELATED: Who's Baltimore Lieutenant Brian Rice?

The state accuses Rice--the highest ranking officer facing charges--of failing to secure Freddie Gray inside the police van with a seat belt. Rice was the bicycle officer who initially made contact with Gray and ordered his pursuit. He also helped place him inside the van.

"The redundancy of the evidence in this case is quite numbing. They have to get to the point. The point is, what was on Lt. Rice's mind when he put Freddie Gray in the back of the van?" said Warren Brown, lawyer and courtroom observer.

Prosecutors say Rice should have known better to leave Gray unsecured in the van leading to the injuries that later killed him.

"The lieutenant left him in a very dangerous, precarious situation and then walked away from it so that would be the finding the judge would have to make to hold the lieutenant criminally responsible," said University of Maryland law professor Doug Colbert.

Fellow officers William Porter and Edward Nero both testified on Monday morning.

On the stand Nero said Gray rocked the van violently at both stops.

"You can hear loud banging. You can hear the grate being kicked, also the sides. You can see it rocking," he said.

Nero says in his 4 years on the force, he'd "never seen a van rock like that".

RELATEDTimeline: Freddie Gray's Arrest to His Fatal Spinal Cord Injury

Officer Porter, whose re-trial is set for September, testified that it would have been "impossible" to get Freddie Gray on the bench without Gray's assistance at Stop 4.

Prosecutors contend that Gray had already suffered the injuries that would later kill him by Stop 4.

Rice is the fourth of six officers  to stand trial in Gray's death. Two were acquitted and proceedings for another ended in a mistrial.

Rice is facing charges of manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

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(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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