Nero trial is now in judge’s hands

May 19, 2016

Police Officer Edward Nero entering Courthouse East Thursday.
Credit P. Kenneth Burns

Prosecutors and defense attorneys presented their closing arguments Thursday before Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams.  And now Williams is examining the evidence and testimony presented at the trial of police Officer Edward Nero.

Nero is one of six officers charged in connection with last year’s death of Freddie Gray.  Gray was arrested April 12, 2015 and died a week later from a broken neck he suffered while in the back of a police wagon.

Prosecutors argued Nero assaulted Gray when Nero and his partner, Officer Garrett Miller, put Gray face down on the ground and searched him. They also said Nero “just didn’t care” when he neglected to put Gray in a seat belt in the back of a police van.

Williams aggressively questioned prosecutors.  He asked them whether every officer who makes an arrest without probable cause should be charged with a crime.

Assistant Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe said that officers make arrests without probably cause all over the city.

“People get jacked up all the time,” Bledsoe told the judge.

“That’s a separate issue,” Williams responded.

Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow explained later that prosecutors believe Nero’s actions were unreasonable.

Legal analyst and defense attorney Warren Brown said Williams “clearly showed some discomfort with the assault charge and as it went further along, even in regards to the reckless endangerment.”

Nero’s attorney, Marc Zayon, told Williams that Gray’s detention was legal and Nero acted reasonably the day of Gray’s arrest and said every witness backs up that claim.

Zayon said prosecutors did not come close to showing Nero’s actions being unreasonable.

Nero is charged with misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges. The assault charge carries a maximum of ten years in prison, while the other charges have five-year maximums.

Williams has said he will issue his verdict at 10:30 a.m. Monday.  

Associated Press contributed to this story.