Highest-Ranking Officer Set to Stand Trial in Freddie Gray Case

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- The highest ranking officer charged for his alleged role in the Freddie Gray case is set to be tried before a Baltimore Circuit Court judge this Thursday.

Here's what we know so far:

Who is Freddie Gray?

On April 12, 2015, Freddie Gray was pursued by cops on bicycles through the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, when he fled after making eye contact with a police officer, according to charging documents.

The move precipitated a series of events that would lead to Gray's death, the indictment of six police officers, and tensions flaring up in the city over police relations with the black community.

Gray died seven days after his arrest, sparking civil unrest and protests and shining a light on racial tensions and issues surrounding what critics said was the use of excessive force by police nationwide.

An autopsy conducted on the 25-year-old Gray concluded that his death was caused by a "high-energy" injury to his neck and spine that likely occurred while Gray was in the back of the police transport van because he didn’t have a seat belt on, according to the autopsy.

The medical examiner ruled Gray’s death a homicide. All six officers pleaded not guilty.

Who is Lt. Brian Rice?

Rice, 42, is the fourth officer to stand trial in the Gray case. He was the highest ranking officer on the ground during the chase and Gray's arrest. He has opted for a bench trial, so Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams will be deciding his fate. There will be no jury present.

What Charges is Rice Facing?

Rice is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment. He is free on $350,000 bail.

The most serious charges against him stem from his alleged failure to secure Gray with a seat belt when he helped put him into the police transport van. Like the other cases, this one will center on whether Rice is criminally liable for Gray’s death for not properly seat belting him, and for not seeking medical attention for Gray when he asked for it.

During a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Williams denied the defense’s motion to dismiss charges based on defective prosecution. The trial comes as some are questioning whether the prosecution should continue with its cases against the officers.

The Baltimore Six

In May 2015, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that the six police officers linked to Gray’s death would face charges ranging from assault to second-degree murder. Three of the six officers are African-American.

So far, two officers have been acquitted and one of the trials ended in a hung jury.

Williams found Officer Edward Nero not guilty in May on all four misdemeanor charges for his role in the events leading up to the death of Gray. Nero, 30, had been charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.

In June, Williams acquitted Officer Caesar Goodson, who was facing the most serious charge of second-degree depraved heart murder. Goodson, 46, was the driver of the police transport van in which Gray sustained his fatal injury. His trial was arguably the highest-profile of the cases.

Last December, the trial of Officer William Porter ended with a hung jury. Porter will be retried in September.

Officer Garrett Miller will stand trial on July 27, and Sgt. Alicia White's trial is slated for Oct. 13.

The state has yet to secure a conviction in any of the cases that went to trial. In recent weeks, Mosby has come under scrutiny for her handling of the cases, including whether or not her office overcharged the six officers.

Defense attorneys, prosecutors, and witnesses are barred from speaking about the Gray case due to a gag order that prohibits them from commenting publicly.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Charlottesville mayor to issue statement on Robert E. Lee statue

Charlottesville mayor to issue statement on Robert E. Lee statueMark Wilson/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer will issue a statement Friday afternoon after canceling a news conference at which he was expected to "make a major announcement" regarding the local statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the legacy of the woman killed during a protest sparked by the city's plans to remove the statue.

His news conference had been scheduled for noon on Friday, but the mayor tweeted Friday morning that "we are canceling today’s press conference and instead issuing a statement in the afternoon."

FYI all: we are canceling today’s press conference and instead issuing a statement in the afternoon. Stay tuned.

— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 18, 2017

FYI, the reason for the change is we decided a statement rather than a press event was the best medium for the ideas I want to convey today.

— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 18, 2017

The statement comes six days after a Unite the Right rally sparked by Charlottesville's plan to remove the Lee statue from a local park turned deadly.

The rally was attended by neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members. They were met with hundreds of counterprotesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes.

A driver plowed into counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring several others. The suspected driver is in custody, facing charges including second-degree murder.

Despite the "painful" event, "we’re not going to let them define us,” Signer told ABC News earlier this week of the agitators.

"They’re not going to tell our story," he said. "We’re going to tell our story. And outsiders -- their time has come and gone. This city is back on their feet, and we’re going to be better than ever despite this."

Signer compared his hopes for Charlottesville's recovery to the aftermath of the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting in June 2015 that killed nine people. The gunman in that attack said he wanted to start a race war, but the tragedy instead united the city.

"There’s a memorial right now in front of Charlottesville City Hall that’s flowers and a heart that talks about the love that we have here. Those are the images that are going to replace these horrific ones from this weekend. That’s the work that we have as a country," Signer said.

"That’s what happened in Charleston. There were those horrible images of those people bloodied and killed and weeping from the church. But they were replaced quickly, steadily, by the work that started to happen. By people who said, 'You’re not going to tell our story for us. We’re going to tell our story.'

"And that’s what’s happening in this community. That’s my work as the mayor here -- is not to allow these hateful people who just don’t get this country to define us," he said. "And they’re not going to define us."

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