A second trial related to the death of Freddie Gray opens Thursday in Baltimore, where police Officer Edward Nero faces multiple misdemeanors in connection with the case.
Gray died April 19, 2015, after suffering a broken neck while in police custody — specifically, while being transported in a police van, medical examiners found. The following month, prosecutors announced charges against six police officers in connection with Gray’s death.
Nero faces multiple misdemeanor charges, according to The Associated Press: second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
NPR’s Jennifer Ludden reports that Nero is not being charged directly for Gray’s death.
“Instead, prosecutors are expected to argue that Officer Edward Nero had no probable cause to arrest Gray — and therefore doing so amounts to assault,” she reports for our Newscast unit. “Nero’s defense has said they can find no other case of an officer being prosecuted like that.”
The Guardian calls that an “unprecedented legal strategy” that “may turn Nero’s case into a referendum on police stops in high crime areas and have wide-ranging implications on how officers can be punished for illegal stops, searches, and detentions.”
“Nero is also charged with reckless endangerment,” Jennifer notes. “He helped put Gray into the police van with his hands shackled, but no seat belt.”
The first trial related to Gray’s death, of Officer William Porter, ended in a hung jury.
Several other officers will face trial on charges including manslaughter and murder.