The judge in the case of one of the officers who arrested Freddie Gray grilled prosecutors during closing arguments Thursday -- questioning whether a crime was in fact committed.
“So, every time there’s an arrest without probable justification – it is a crime?” Baltimore Judge Barry Williams asked incredulously. “I’m trying to make sure it was a criminal assault. Touching Freddie Gray is assault?”
“We believe that the search and arrest without justification are assault, your honor,” Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe said in the case of Officer Edward Nero. “There’s no question about that.”
They later clarified that they were arguing that the behavior of the officer was "unreasonable" in Nero's case, for allegedly putting Gray in the back of a police van handcuffed and without safety restraints and for the arrest and detention in the first place.
Williams is set to issue a verdict next Monday.
Nero, 30, is the second of six Baltimore officers to stand trial for the death of Gray, who died in April 2015 while in police custody. Gray broke his neck while riding unsecured in the back of a police van and his death sparked outrage.
Nero, who is white, is charged with assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office for his involvement in Gray's arrest and injury that later led to his death. He has pleaded not guilty, but faces 10 years in prison if convicted on the assault charge.
Defense attorney Marc Zayon said that his clients' actions were completely legal and protected by the law, and that the state’s case against Nero is “nonsensical.”
“I can’t believe I even have to argue this,” he said. “The detention is OK, the cuffing is OK, the moving is OK,” he said. “Being detained is a horrible thing, being cuffed is a horrible thing…but the law allows it.”