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Fellow Baltimore officer testifies in Nero trial for death of Freddie Gray

By Andrew V. Pestano

BALTIMORE, May 17 (UPI) -- In a first for Maryland, Baltimore police Officer Garrett Miller, a co-defendant, on Monday testified as a prosecution witness in Officer Edward Nero's trial related to the death of Freddie Gray.

Though called by the prosecution, Miller's testimony supported Nero's defense assertion that Nero had a minor role in the arrest. Miller said he alone physically took Gray into custody.

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It was the first time in Maryland history when a defendant has testified in the trial of a co-defendant with his or her own charges pending, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Miller was granted immunity from his testimony being used against him in his own trial that begins in July. The prosecution rested its case in Nero's trial after Miller's testimony.

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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 said he only touched Gray to find his inhaler. Nero's attorney has his client acted reasonably and followed his training. Miller testified that Nero also touched Gray when helping put him in a van.

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In the trial, prosecutors are using statements provided by both officers to investigators last year in which they described Gray's arrest as a collective effort.

Nero, who is not charged in Gray's death, is accused of putting Gray in a dangerous situation. Miller faces similar charges. Both 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.

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On Thursday during opening arguments, the prosecution said Nero did not use proper protocol and lacked legal justification to detain during opening arguments.

Gray sustained a fatal spinal injury while being driven in a transport van after his arrest. His death sparked weeks of peaceful demonstrations, riots and looting in Baltimore, and amplified the Black Lives Matter movement nation wide. 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.

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.

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Amy R. Connolly contributed to this report.

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