1st Freddie Gray hearing since 6 officers charged in death

Edward Brown speaks at a protest outside City Hall about Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Monday, April 20, 2015. Baltimore's top police officials, mayor and prosecutor sought to calm a "community on edge" Monday while investigating how Gray suffered a fatal spine injury while under arrest. Six officers have been suspended, but investigators say they still don't know how it happened. (Amy Davis/The Baltimore Sun via AP)


BALTIMORE (AP) — Protesters demonstrated outside Baltimore Circuit Court on Wednesday morning as the first court hearing began Wednesday in the case of six police officers charged in the death of a black man who died a week after suffering a spinal cord injury in custody.

Officers Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, William Porter and Caesar Goodson, as well as Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, face charges in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old Gray suffered a severe spinal cord injury on April 12 while in police custody. He died a week later.

Dozens of protesters rallied for more than an hour outside the Baltimore courthouse. Many of them then marched in the street to the city’s Inner Harbor area, where they blocked a main road briefly. Police lined up behind them, and directed them out of the road. Police handcuffed one protester while he was on his stomach in the street.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will present arguments at the hearing on three key issues: whether State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby should recuse herself, whether the officers should be tried separately, and whether charges should be dismissed.

The officers face charges that range from second-degree assault, a misdemeanor, to second-degree “depraved-heart” murder. Gray’s death led to protests in Baltimore and a riot that prompted National Guard intervention and a city-wide curfew.

Protester Lee Paterson said he’s concerned charges could be dropped.

“You know, this whole thing is bigger than Freddie Gray,” Paterson said. “It’s about poverty.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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