Freddie Gray Case: Accused cop to face ‘bench trial’ without jury

Freddie Gray Case: Accused cop to face 'bench trial' without jury

One of the Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died last year from injuries sustained in custody, has waived his right to a jury trial and will have his case heard by a judge alone.

Edward Nero was one of three bicycle cops involved in Mr Gray’s initial arrest in April 2015.

The 30-year-old officer faces misdemeanour charges of reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

He is not charged over Mr Gray’s death.

Jury selection in Nero’s trial had been scheduled to begin on Thursday, but the request for a bench trial could see witness testimony start as early as Wednesday.

Jim Cohen, a Fordham University law professor, told Reuters it is not unusual for police officers to elect to have their cases decided by a judge rather than a jury.

He said officers facing trial believe “a judge will not throw the book at a defendant, even if convicted”.

Nero is the second officer to face trial over in the case involving Mr Gray’s death.

Officer William Porter’s manslaughter trial was declared a mistrial in December after jurors were unable to reach a verdict following three days of deliberation.

Porter and another officer, Garrett Miller, are expected to be called as prosecution witnesses against Nero.

Both have been granted immunity from having their testimony used in their own trials.

Mr Gray’s death from a spinal injury after he was arrested for fleeing police triggered rioting and fuelled a national debate over allegations of police brutality.

Six officers were charged with offences ranging from misconduct to second-degree murder.