The trial of the next Baltimore Police officer charged in the Freddie Gray case is set to get under way, with a pretrial motions hearing Wednesday morning in a downtown courtroom.
Officer Garrett Miller, 27, is charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office related to the arrest of Gray, a 25-year-old man who died a week after sustaining a severe spinal injury in the back of a transport van.
He will be the fifth officer to stand trial in the case. Prosecutors have yet to secure a conviction, with three officers being acquitted by a judge in bench trials this year and a fourth officer's trial ending with a hung jury and mistrial in December.
Here's what you need to know about the case:
Miller, 27, was hired by the Baltimore Police Department in 2012. He was on bicycle patrol on April 12, 2015 when he was called to chase Gray, who ran from officers in the Gilmor Homes area of West Baltimore. Gray's death touched off citywide protests against police brutality, followed by rioting, looting and arson on the day of his funeral.
Miller was compelled to testify under limited immunity in the May trial of co-defendant Officer Edward Nero. Because of this, the judge is likely to hold a hearing before trial to determine whether prosecutors took the proper steps to ensure the terms of that immunity agreement – designed to protect Miller's constitutional rights against self-incrimination – have not been violated.
Because Miller's charges are misdemeanors, he has been on paid administrative duty since last year. He earns about $55,625 a year, according to a city database.
A new team of prosecutors will be trying the case. Assistant State's Attorney Lisa Phelps has been with the state's attorney's office since 1999, and currently leads the training division. She was previously chief of the special victims unit, and a supervisor in the felony unit. Assistant State's Attorney Sarah David has been with the state's attorney's office since 2014. She is listed as a prosecutor in the misdemeanor unit.
The defense attorneys
Miller is represented by attorneys Catherine Flynn and Brandon Mead. Flynn is a partner at Mead, Flynn & Gray, P.A. She has previously represented Baltimore police officers in high profile cases – including an officer involved in the in-custody death of Anthony Anderson, a case in which prosecutors declined to bring charges. Mead is an associate at Mead, Flynn & Gray, P.A. The firm was co-founded by Flynn and his mother, Margaret Mead.
Barry G. Williams has been a Circuit Court judge since 2005, following a career as an assistant city state's attorney and a special litigation counsel with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, a role in which he traveled the country trying federal police misconduct cases.
What has happened so far
Four officers have stood trial in the case. Officer William Porter's trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial last December. Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr. and Lt. Brian Rice were acquitted of all charges in bench trials this year.
What comes next
Two more officers are scheduled to stand trial following Miller.
•Officer William Porter (Sept. 6 retrial): He is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. His trial last December ended in a hung jury and mistrial
•Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13): She is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
All of the officers have pleaded not guilty.
Reaction from Joshua Harris:
Joshua Harris, the Green Party nominee for Baltimore mayor, said today’s announcement reflects “business as usual in the city.” Baltimore needs new leadership that can take the city in a dramatically new direction to make lasting change, he said.
“This is 15 months after the death of Freddie Gray, and there is still no justice,” Harris said. “We have an opportunity in November to show the city is ready for real change and break up the same old, same old decisions and leaders in our city.”
Six Baltimore police officers cleared of criminal charges in Freddie Gray's arrest and death will be investigated by Montgomery County police, who are leading the internal affairs reviews that could determine whether the officers can return to policing city streets.
Officers from the Washington suburb — with help from Howard County police — are interviewing Baltimore police officers and witnesses and examining city policies to determine whether Lt. Brian Rice and Officers Caesar Goodson Jr. and Edward Nero broke department rules during Gray's arrest and transport. Similar reviews are expected to begin for OfficerGarrett Miller, Officer William Porter and Sgt. Alicia White after prosecutors dropped charges against the officers Wednesday.
Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died a week after suffering severe spinal injuries in the back of a police van in April 2015.While it is rare for outside agencies to investigate officers, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the city asked the other departments a few months ago to lead the internal affairs reviews to assure the public of fairness and objectivity in the high-profile case.
More about the Internal Affairs review:
As public attention shifts from the courtroom — a Baltimore judge the three officers who went to trial — some have expressed skepticism about the authenticity of the internal affairs reviews.
The process, largely shielded from public view, can stretch hundreds of days before it is determined whether officers are exonerated or face reprimands or firings in the wake of misconduct allegations.
Nearly nine out of 10 internal investigations by Montgomery County police do not result in officers being reprimanded or fired. The rate at which officers face discipline is roughly the same nationally and slightly higher in Baltimore.
Police say privacy laws prohibit them from releasing the results of an officer's internal affairs review to the public. It is unclear what information will be publicly available after officers in the Gray case are investigated.
The internal affairs investigation into Gray's death was initiated automatically. Most administrative reviews are triggered by complaints made by the public or fellow officers.
In those cases, the General Assembly passed legislation this year that cleared the way for those who make the complaints to receive letters explaining more about the outcome of the cases.
The six officers are subject to internal affairs reviews that could determine whether they can return to policing city streets. Montgomery and Howard County police departments are conducting the reviews, with the final decision on discipline to be made by Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.
If Davis decides to discipline the officers, the officers could request a police trial board — a tribunal of fellow officers who would reconsider the discipline.
The reviews of the three acquitted officers have already begun.
The four officers charged with felonies - Goodson, Rice, Porter and White - were suspended without pay. Goodson and Rice, who have been previously acquitted, began receiving paychecks again. Porter and White, whose charges were dropped, will begin to receive theirs.
The four officers are also able to seek more than a year of back pay, but their police powers will remain suspended until the conclusion of their administrative reviews.
The city agreed this month to pay Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. more than $87,000 after he was found not guilty of second-degree murder and other charges.
The officers not charged with misdemeanors - Nero and Miller - have been getting paid and have been assigned to administrative duties until the Internal Affairs investigations are completed.