Prosecution rests in Officer Edward Nero trial
Nero is the second of six officers to go on trial in the Freddie Gray case. Officer William Porter went on trial late last year.
Nero requested a bench trial instead of a jury trial. Nero, Officer Garrett Miller and Lt. Brian Rice were the officers on bicycle patrol who were involved in the initial arrest of Gray on April 12, 2015. Gray died a week later, and anger over his death helped spark last year’s riots.
Earlier Monday, prosecutors called Miller to the stand, but courtroom observers believe the witness may have helped the defense.
“I think Officer Miller did a lot more to help the defense than he did to help the state,” said Warren Alperstein, a legal expert.
Nero and Miller, both members of the Baltimore Police Department since 2012, are charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. All the charges are misdemeanors.
Miller testified that he and Nero responded to a foot chase for Gray after a radio call by Rice. Asked by the prosecutor whether he or Nero asked Rice why he chased Gray, Miller said no.
Asked by the prosecutor who apprehended Gray, Miller said he did and that he pursued Gray on foot. He said Gray gave up without fight. Miller said he put handcuffs and shackles on Gray.
Asked by the prosecutor whether Nero grabbed Gray, Miller said no.
Miller stayed on the witness stand some two hours. The line of questioning covered a lot of ground.
Miller testified that he believed it was the van driver’s ultimate responsibility to ensure Gray was secured in the police van with a seat belt.
Miller testified that Nero touched Gray twice: Once when he helped look for his inhaler and once when Nero helped Rice lift Gray into the van at Mount and Baker streets.
“Nero’s role was de minimis, de minimis. It’s absurd that he’s sitting there hanging to fight for his freedom,” said Warren Brown, a legal expert.
The courts gave Miller limited immunity to testify, so what he says can’t be used against him at his own trial.
Earlier in the day, prosecutors introduced Gray’s autopsy report as evidence but didn’t go into any detail. Prosecutors briefly called Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Carol Allan to testify. She performed the autopsy on Gray.