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A fellow officer or two could be called in Nero trial

Baltimore Police
Police Officers Garrett Miller (center) and William Porter (right) could be called Monday to testify against fellow officer Edward Nero.

Prosecutors could call one, or even two, of police Officer Edward Nero’s colleagues to testify against him today as his trial on charges in the Freddie Gray case goes into a third day.

Nero is charged with second degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office for his role in the arrest and death of Gray from a broken neck suffered in the back of a police wagon. Gray was arrested on April 12, 2015 and died a week later from his injuries.

Officer Garrett Miller, along with Nero, was among those who arrested Gray after a chase into the 1700 block of Presbury Street.

Legal analyst and former prosecutor Warren Alperstein says it could be awkward for Nero if Miller is called because they were partners and it could be difficult for Miller because he will face his own trial in this case later this year.

“Officer Miller gave a statement to the internal affairs when the case was investigated,” Alperstein says.  “Presumably, he’s going to stick to that statement and that’s what he’s going to say.”

Miller was ordered to testify by Circuit Judge Barry Williams.

In addition, prosecutors could call Officer William Porter, whose trial on manslaughter charges ended in a hung jury in December. He was forced to testify by the Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court.

Alperstein says Porter could fill in some blanks on what happened when Gray was arrested.

“He’ll help to explain or elaborate what was happening when Freddie Gray was loaded in the back of a transport wagon,” he explained. “Maybe that’s relevant in some way to an argument that Nero should have put the seatbelt on.”

Prosecutors are arguing that Nero was required by police general orders to put Gray in a seatbelt and “needlessly risked” Gray’s life by not doing so. Nero’s defense team says Gray was being uncooperative when he was being arrested.

But Alperstein says state experts, in previous testimony, stated the van driver is responsible for putting the detainee in the seatbelt, not someone who is part of the arrest team.

Police Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van, will not go on trial until June.

Prosecutors could wrap up their case by the end of the day.