The Latest: Trial begins for officer in Freddie Gray case

AP News
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Posted: May 12, 2016 1:20 PM

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Latest in the trial of Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero, who faces charges stemming from the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray:

11:30 a.m.

Prosecutors in the trial for Officer Edward Nero showed a Baltimore judge a video re-enactment of Freddie Gray's arrest, in which a young police officer who is the same height and weight as Gray can be seen moving around the back of a transport wagon after being placed in cuffs and leg irons.

Gray died April 19, a week after his neck was broken in the back of a police van.

Nero faces assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges stemming from Gray's arrest. Prosecutors showed a video made by police investigators nearly a month after the officers were charged.

In the video, investigators first placed Lloyd Cecil Sobboh, a cadet in the police academy, in metal handcuffs, then plastic cuffs, and seated him on the bench in the transport van. In both scenarios, Sobboh was able to stand, turn around in a circle, kick the walls and rock the van back and forth. Then, he was placed in leg irons and laid on his stomach. In that case, he was still able to move, but with more difficulty.

Prosecutors likely showed the video to prove that Gray, who was not secured in a seat belt, was vulnerable to injury.

The reckless endangerment charge stems from Nero's failure to buckle Gray in. Nero's attorney Marc Zayon said in an opening statement that belting prisoners is always the wagon driver's responsibility.

12:10 p.m.

Baltimore Police Cpt. Martin Bartness took the stand in the trial of Officer Edward Nero, one of six officers charged in the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray.

Nero faces assault and misconduct in office charges stemming from Gray's arrest, and a reckless endangerment charge stemming from the officer's failure to secure Gray in a seat belt inside the transport van. Gray died April 19, a week after his neck was broken in the back of the wagon.

Bartness, the first state witness, told Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams that the department's general orders say that officers are required to buckle prisoners into seat belts when they're being transported, and that the language allowing for an officer to use his discretion as to whether to use the belt was eliminated when the policy was updated April 9 of last year.

But Bartness, under cross examination, conceded that officers must use their judgment and discretion each and every day on the job, and that a general order is a policy, and not a law.

11:30 a.m.

A defense attorney for Officer Edward Nero told a Baltimore judge that the young officer cares deeply about helping people, and acted in accordance with his police training and best judgment when he and two other officers chased Freddie Gray on April 12 of last year.

Gray died April 19, a week after his neck was broken in the back of the police wagon he was loaded into after being detained and placed in handcuffs. Six officers face charges stemming from the incident.

During opening statements, attorney Marc Zayon told Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams that Nero, who faces assault and misconduct in office charges stemming from Gray's arrest, wasn't directly involved in arresting Gray, and didn't touch the man until after he'd already been placed in handcuffs and taken into custody by another officer.

Nero also faces a reckless endangerment charge stemming from his failure to secure Gray in a seatbelt. Zayon said Nero didn't belt Gray because the man was putting the officers at risk by "passively and actively resisting arrest, banging in the wagon, kicking the wagon." Zayon added that it was the wagon driver's responsibility to belt a passenger, not Nero's.

11 a.m.

During opening statements prosecutors told a Baltimore judge that the defendant, Officer Edward Nero, disregarded his police training when he chased Freddie Gray and arrested him without probable cause, and was callously indifferent to the 25-year-old man's wellbeing when he failed to secure him in a seatbelt.

Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow spent about 20 minutes laying out the state's argument during the first day of Nero's trial. He faces assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office charges stemming from Gray's arrest. Gray died on April 19, a week after his neck was broken in the back of a police van.

Nero is the second officer to stand trial.

Schatzow told Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams that Gray's arrest was unlawful and that Nero, who prosecutors say along with two other officers chased Gray, secured him in cuffs and loaded him into the van, should never have touched the man. Prosecutors also say Nero acted in a reckless manner when he failed to buckle Gray into a seatbelt.

4 a.m.

One of six Baltimore officers who face charges stemming from the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray is going on trial Thursday.

Officer Edward Nero faces assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges. Nero, along with two other officers, arrested Gray after making eye contact with him and chasing him in West Baltimore last year.

Gray was placed in handcuffs and put in the back of a police transport van, where he suffered a critical spinal injury. He died a week later.

Nero opted for a bench trial, rather than a jury trial. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams indicated that the trial will take about five days.