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Verdict expected Monday in Freddie Gray-officer trial

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    This May 12, 2016 file photo shows officer Edward Nero, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, arriving at a courthouse at the beginning of his trial in Baltimore Md.

BALTIMORE >> A judge is expected Monday to hand down his verdict in the case of a Baltimore police officer charged in the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray.

Officer Edward Nero faces assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges. Prosecutors say the 30-year-old unlawfully arrested Gray without probable cause and was negligent when he didn’t buckle the prisoner into a seat belt.

Nero opted for a bench trial, rather than a jury trial. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams is expected to announce his verdict Monday. The assault charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and the other charges carry five-year maximums.

Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after his neck was broken in the back of a police transport van while he was handcuffed and shackled, but left unrestrained by a seat belt.

His death set off more than a week of protests followed by looting, rioting and arson that prompted a citywide curfew.

Nero’s attorney argues his client didn’t arrest Gray, and that it is the police van driver’s responsibility to buckle in detainees. The defense argued that the officers who responded that day acted responsibly, and called witnesses to bolster their argument that any reasonable officer in Nero’s position would have made the same decisions.

The defense also sought to convince the judge that the department’s order requiring that all inmates be strapped in is more suggestion than rule because officers are expected to act with discretion based on the circumstances of each situation.

Nero is the second officer to stand trial. Officer William Porter’s manslaughter trial ended with a hung jury.

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  • Nothing would have happened if this Gray would have cooperated with police from the beginning. It is always the same with these people: only the trouble makers get these treatments and problems. I feel sorry for cops having to deal with such people and being later harassed because something bad happened.

    • You got that right. These types of trials were used by the Soviet Union and were known as show trials. Justice is not the goal here. The goal is to demonstrate so-called institutionalized racism and to placate the masses.

    • The saddest part of this whole affair is that Freddie Gray shouldn’t have been detained by police in the first place, then arrested and later, by whatever means, killed. Put another way, there shouldn’t have been probable cause or reasonable suspicion for police officers to make an arrest.

      What’s perhaps been lost in the debate since Gray’s death, now over a year ago, is that the spring-assisted knife he carried is actually legal under Baltimore’s ordinance banning switchblade knives. In the absence of any other crime committed by Gray, police officers had no justification to make an arrest. That they did arrest him and even today maintain the arrest was justified is because of two factors:

      First, a police officer of average intelligence quite frankly lacks the simple mechanical sense to recognize the distinction between a switchblade knife and a spring-assisted knife. This ignorance is not by any means limited to police officers. Your average judge, lawyer, scientist and medical doctor probably couldn’t tell you (if posed the question on-the-fly) either.

      Second, the Baltimore ordinance cited by the police as justification for arresting Freddie Gray is perhaps not as clearly written as it might be, considering the kind of people who are likely to apply it. I’ve read and fully understand it, but the fact that even more than a few attorneys have demonstrated they cannot, suggests the ordinance is unnecessarily vague and should be rewritten.

      It really should give residents of Baltimore (if not the rest of the country) pause, if police officers are acquitted of Gray’s death simply because they couldn’t read well enough to understand a law they felt a duty to enforce. If an acquittal comes down, then no longer will it be true when we say “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

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