In trial over prisoner's death, seat belt policy is examined

AP News
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Posted: May 17, 2016 2:41 PM

BALTIMORE (AP) — A police sergeant who says he mentored an officer now on trial in the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray testified Tuesday that he didn't train the officer about putting seat belts on prisoners, and didn't tell his subordinates about a new mandatory seat belt policy.

Sgt. Warren Stephens said he went out on assignments with Officer Edward Nero to teach the young policeman the ropes. But Stephens said he didn't tell his subordinates about a policy that had been updated days before Gray's arrest, making it mandatory to put prisoners in seat belts.

Also on Tuesday, Officer Aaron Jackson said he worked with Nero and was on the scene of Gray's arrest. He testified that he could see Gray "violently shaking" the van, and that he'd made arrests but never buckled prisoners into the transport van's seat belt.

Nero faces assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges stemming from Gray's April 12, 2015, arrest. Gray died a week later, after his neck was broken in the back of a police transport van.

Prosecutors say Nero illegally arrested Gray, and was negligent in failing to seat belt him. Nero's attorney says he wasn't involved in the arrest, and that it's the wagon driver's responsibility to buckle in prisoners.

Days of civil disturbance in Baltimore followed Gray's death. Parts of the city burned amid rioting and looting.