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Baltimore Officer Nero described as young, improperly trained in Freddie Gray trial

By Andrew V. Pestano
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Baltimore Officer Nero described as young, improperly trained in Freddie Gray trial
Witnesses for the defense testified Tuesday that Baltimore Officer Edward Nero was a rookie police officer and as such wasn't properly trained on how to transport detainees in a police van. Photo courtesy of Baltimore Police Department

BALTIMORE, May 18 (UPI) -- The defense for Edward Nero on Tuesday called witnesses who described the Baltimore officer -- on trial in the death of Freddie Gray -- as improperly trained.

The defense called forward five witnesses, four of whom were fellow police officers. Nero's field training officer at the police academy, Sgt. Charles Sullivan, testified and said Nero never received training on the proper procedures for transporting detainees in police transport vans.

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"I didn't train him on it," Sullivan said responding to defense attorney Marc Zayon's inquiries, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Nero, who doesn't face manslaughter charges for Gray's death, is accused of putting Gray in a dangerous situation. Nero 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 van.

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Sgt. Warren Stephens, who describes himself as Nero's mentor, agreed with Zayon's description of Nero as a "baby officer" who, like all rookies, knows the "the basics" about policing "but really nothing from the street."

The prosecution argues Nero, who joined the force in 2012, did not use proper protocol and lacked legal justification to arrest Gray for failing to have probable cause. Prosecutors 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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Gray sustained a fatal spinal injury while being driven in a van after his arrest. His death sparked weeks of peaceful demonstrations, riots and looting in Baltimore, and amplified the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide. 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.

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Amy R. Connolly contributed to this report.

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