Prosecutors map out what Nero did | WYPR

Prosecutors map out what Nero did

May 19, 2016
Originally published on May 14, 2016 11:17 am

Prosecutors played the statement police Officer Edward Nero gave to investigators during the second day of Nero’s trial.  The state spent much of the day focused on what took place on April 12, 2015; the day of the arrest.

After waiving his Miranda and law enforcement officers’ rights, Nero told Det. Michael Boyd that Gray was being combative and tried to cause a scene as officers were arresting him.

He said they tried to restrain him as best as possible until the van showed up.  When the van arrived, Nero said Gray was placed head-first on the bench. 

Nero said he and other officers on the scene discussed needing to move the van to a different location because it was becoming an officer safety issue.

“There was too many people gathering around,” he told Boyd.

When the van was moved, Lt. Brian Rice brought Gray out of the van so his legs could be shackled.

Nero said they “had to slide [Gray]” back into the van on the floor.  He added that Gray was not placed in a seatbelt.

The charges against Nero are second degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office for his alleged role in causing Gray’s broken neck suffered while in back of a police van.  Gray died a week after his arrest from the injury.

Nero also said “medically” Gray “looked fine” and did not look like someone suffering an asthma attack.

In earlier testimony, Brandon Ross, the state’s ninth witness, testified that he, Gray and another friend, Davonte Roary, met that morning to have coffee. 

When Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe asked Ross if it was a nice day, Ross responded “Yes.”

But the coffee shop was closed.

Ross told Circuit Judge Barry Williams, who is trying the case without a jury, Gray and Roary took off running when they were at North Avenue and Mount Street.  He said he didn’t see the bicycle officers – Nero and Officer Garrett Miller – until a short time later.  And that it’s fair to say that Gray “zig-zagged” while running from officers until Gray surrendered in the 1700 block of Presbury Street.

He added Nero showed up after Gray was handcuffed and identified him as the officer who lifted Gray by his feet and "threw him" into the wagon head-first.

Prosecutors showed cellphone videos shot during Gray's arrest and during the wagon's second stop, when Gray was secured in leg irons.

Ross testified that he called the police after Gray was arrested, but used a fake name - “Rodney Clark” - because "I knew I was going to be harassed."

Nero’s attorney, Marc Zayon, also tried to get Ross to admit he lied when he said Gray had been tased. After reviewing a transcript of his interview with investigators, Ross recalled saying it sounded like Gray was tased. 

Sheriff’s deputies led Ross away in handcuffs after he finished his testimony. He’s being held on assault and weapons charges in an unrelated incident from March.

The prosecution is expected to continue presenting their case Monday.  They could call Officer Miller who is being compelled to testify against Nero.

Associated Press contributed to this report.