A police officer charged in the Freddie Gray case chose Tuesday to stand trial before a judge rather than a jury, eliminating a potential wild card in the divisive and emotionally charged case.
Officer Edward Nero was one of three officers who arrested Gray when he made eye contact with one of them and took off running in a high-crime area in April 2015. The officers took Gray, a 25-year-old black man, into custody and he was placed in the back of a police van, where he was critically injured during a 45-minute trip to a nearby police station.
He died a week later, sparking protests and fueling the Black Lives Matter movement, becoming a rallying cry in the growing national conversation about the treatment of black men by police. On the day of his funeral, rioting and looting broke out and a city-wide curfew was imposed as the National Guard rolled in to help restore order.
Nero, one of six officers charged, faces assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office charges. His trial is scheduled to begin Thursday and is expected to last about five days. The trial is seen as a bellwether case for the other two arresting officers who face the same charges. They have all pleaded not guilty.
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