BALTIMORE (UPI) — Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero did not use proper protocol and lacked legal justification to detain Freddie Gray in April 2015, prosecutors said in opening arguments in Nero’s assault and misconduct trial on Thursday.

Nero, one of six Baltimore Police officers to be prosecuted in Gray’s arrest and death, said he pursued the 25-year-old on April 12, 2015, based on assistance calls from other officers and he only touched Gray to find his inhaler. Nero’s attorney said he acted reasonably and followed his training. Nero, who is not charged in Gray’s death, is accused of putting Gray in a dangerous situation. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault and misconduct charges, both misdemeanors, related to Gray’s arrest and reckless endangerment and misconduct based on the way Gray was loaded into a police transport van.

“It is clear in this case that everything that was done, not only by Officer Nero but all of the involved officers, was done correctly,” Nero’s defense attorney Marc Zayon said.

Gray sustained a fatal spinal injury while being driven in a transport van after his arrest. His death sparked weeks of demonstrations, riots and looting in Baltimore and amplified the Black Lives Matter movement. Prosecutors contend officers did not do enough to get Gray medical aid after he was injured while handcuffed but not buckled into a seat in the back of the van.

Nero’s bench trial comes after a Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that William Porter, a fellow officer who was charged in Gray’s death, must testify against the five others defendants

Prosecutors said Nero had no probable cause to arrest Gray, who made contact with officers and began running. They said Nero was aware of proper seat-belt protocols sent by email from department heads to officers on April 9, 2015, for arrestees, but disregarded them. Nero’s attorney said Nero was off work when the email was sent and that it was never mentioned in roll call.

The trial will continue Friday. It is expected to last five days.


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