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Patrick Semansky, Associated Press
Lt. Brian Rice, one of the six members of the Baltimore Police Department charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, arrives at a courthouse for opening statements in his trial in Baltimore, Thursday, July 7, 2016.

BALTIMORE — Prosecutors dropped a misconduct charge Thursday against the highest-ranking Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Moments before their opening statement in the bench trial of Lt. Brian Rice, prosecutors told Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams they would not go forward on one of two charges of misconduct in office.

Rice still stands accused of assault, reckless endangerment and a remaining charge of misconduct in office, stemming from his failure to see that Gray was buckled in with a seat belt before the young black arrestee's neck was broken inside a police van.

Rice opted against a jury trial. He is the fourth of six officers — three white and three black — to go before Williams, who acquitted two other officers last month. Williams also presided over an initial jury trial that ended with a mistrial.

Gray's death prompted protests and rioting across Baltimore and added fuel to the national Black Lives Matter movement.