Baltimore PD officers plead not guilty in Freddie Gray’s death, trial date set

Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., Officer Edward M. Nero, Officer Garrett E Miller (top L-R), Officer William G. Porter, Lt. Brian W. Rice, Sgt. Alicia D. White (bottom L-R) (Reuters / Baltimore Police Department)
The six Baltimore, Maryland police officers charged in the in-custody death of Freddie Gray pleaded not guilty and received their trial date. They will be tried separately, but are all assigned the same judge and trial date.

Two months after the officers involved in arresting the 25-year-old Gray were charged with counts ranging from misconduct in office to second-degree depraved heart murder, all six officers promised to enter written not-guilty pleas by Friday.

Administrative Judge W. Michel Pierson issued what the Baltimore Sun called “an unusual order” canceling the defendants’ scheduled arraignments "upon the entry by each defendant of a plea of not guilty." The six officers had been set to be arraigned on July 2.

Judge Barry Williams was assigned the cases "for all further proceedings."

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby declared Gray’s death a homicide and announced the various charges against the six officers at the beginning of May, the day after she received the Baltimore Police Department’s preliminary report on the day Gray was arrested.

Officer Caesar Goodson, 45, who drove the van, was charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree negligent assault, manslaughter by vehicle by means of gross negligence, manslaughter by vehicle by means of criminal negligence, misconduct in office for failure to secure a prisoner, and failure to render aid.

Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree and misconduct in office. Lieutenant Brian Rice, 41, who led the chase of Gray, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

Officers Edward Nero, 29, and Garrett Miller, 26, were charged with assault in the second degree ‒ intentional; assault in the second degree ‒ negligent; misconduct in office; and false imprisonment.

Sergeant Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault and misconduct in office.

After fleeing police on April 12, Gray was arrested and charged with carrying a switchblade knife, which is illegal in Baltimore City. Mosby, however, said in her statement of probable cause that the knife was not a switchblade and was legal.

"Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon," Mosby said. He had been placed "on his stomach, head first onto the floor of the wagon."

Mosby said that Gray was not secured in the van with a seatbelt, which is against police regulations, and he was handcuffed and placed in leg irons. This led to his injuries, according to the investigation. During one of the stops police officers checked on Gray, saw that he was unresponsive, but failed to take any actions to assist him. He slipped into a coma anddied a week later.

Unrest after his death broke out into rioting on April 25, after Gray’s funeral.

A grand jury indicted the officers three weeks after Mosby announced the charges against the six officers.

The officers will have a motions date on September 2 before their trials begin on October 13. Defense lawyers are trying to move the trials outside the city of Baltimore, arguing that their clients will be unable to receive a fair trial there. The prosecution is seeking a gag order preventing information or comments related to the case from being made public. Specifically, Mosby wants to block the release of the autopsy report and other “sensitive” documents in the upcoming trial.