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BALTIMORE (AP) — One of the Baltimore police officers who arrested Freddie Gray has challenged police and a top prosecutor to produce a knife that prompted the arrest, arguing in a court motion that it is an illegal weapon.

Attorneys filed the motion in Baltimore District Court for Officer Edward Nero, who is charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment. The motion appeared to challenge the basis for charges Nero faces after the arrest of Gray, a black man who died a week after suffering a severe spinal injury in police custody.

Last Friday, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged Nero and the others just a day after receiving the investigative report from the police department. Mosby said the officers had unlawfully arrested Gray because the knife he had in his pocket is considered legal under Maryland state law.

Marc Zayon, Nero’s attorney, argued in the motion filed Monday that the knife in Gray’s pocket — described in charging documents as “a spring assisted, one hand operated knife” — is in fact illegal under state law. Maryland, he said, defines a knife as unlawful if it opens automatically by pushing a button, spring or other device in the handle.

The charges against the officers came near the close of a turbulent week in which violence, looting and fires erupted in the streets April 27 only hours after Gray’s funeral that Monday.

But some lawyers including Andy Alperstein, who has represented police officers but is not involved in the Gray case, said those charges can only be proven if Gray was wrongly arrested. If the knife was illegal, “there is no case” against Nero and another officer, he said.

“If the facts were that the knife was illegal then the Gray arrest would be justified. Even if it wasn’t illegal and the officers acted in good faith, it would be the same result. All charges fail,” Alperstein said.

Some spring-assisted knives are opened by pushing a thumb stud attached to the blade.

Many knives have these spring-assisted opening mechanisms but are not the automatic knives prohibited under Maryland law, said Michael Faith, marketing director for Henderson’s Sporting Goods in Hagerstown.

“An automatic knife means all you do is push a button and the blade pops out,” Faith said. “A lot of knives will have a little spring assist so when you push it open with your thumb, the knife will open up pretty much by itself.”

Police said officers chased Gray two blocks after making eye contact with him and subsequently found the knife in his pocket.

The Associated Press has made repeated requests to the police department for a physical description of the knife as well as photographs. Police later referred the request to the state’s attorney’s office.

Nero and Officer Garrett Miller are charged with misdemeanors. Four others — Sgt. Alicia White, Lt. Brian Rice and officers Caesar Goodson and William Porter — are charged with felonies ranging from manslaughter to second-degree “depraved-heart” murder.

Calls to attorneys representing Miller and Rice, who were involved in Gray’s arrest, were not immediately returned.

Mosby’s office declined to comment on a pending case, citing prosecutorial ethics.

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(Photo Source: AP)

8 thoughts on “Officers’ Legal Attack Begins in Freddie Gray Case

  1. Police brutality will never end as long as there black folk in america.they dont like blacks its been taught.but not all white folks dislike blacks.i have some good white associates.doctors.former teachers and so forth.its taught behavior.there nothing up here they can take with them at death.i think white folks are just selfish and just want everything for themselves and there families.greed desyroys the earth and thats happening now.

  2. specialt757 on said:

    “If the facts were that the knife was illegal then the Gray arrest would be justified. Even if it wasn’t illegal and the officers acted in good faith, it would be the same result.” Has there been an answer to why Mr. Gray was arrested in the first place? Did they find drugs on him? After he was handcuffed is when they found the legal/illegal knife. Did Mr. Gray actually die because he had a legal/illegal knife in his pocket? But we have a white man on trial who we know shot up a movie theater and he didn’t die, he’s able to enjoy due process? Why are black men dying for less? Broken tail lights, etc… Aren’t we afforded the same due process as white murders?

    • I could not agree more with your comment.
      In Miami, a high percentage of Black men are being stopped while biking. (Yes, while riding a bicycle!) It is my hope and prayer that none of our Black brothers or sisters is killed for such nonsense!

  3. Linda on said:

    Lynn*

    You are entitled to your opinion just as I am entitled to mine!

    I do think that Black on Black crime is despicable. However, I think that police brutality is even worse!
    Law enforcemore officers are supposed to Protect/Serve-not beat folks to death.

    As a fifty-eight year old African-American woman I have never been and hope to never be accosted in the streets by a thug of any color!

  4. Linda on said:

    Knife or no pocket knife–the PIGS had no justifyable reason for stopping Mr. Gray other than the fact that he was a young African-American male!!!!

    This POS is just attempting to make a lame excuse for his participation in Mr. Grays beating and subsequent death!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Lynn on said:

      Oh give it a d@ rest!!!! When one of these thugs rob and beat you I bet you won’t hesitate to call 911!! Why can’t we defend those ruined in black on black crime with the same passion??? That;s why I got the h@ out of B more. Thugs/criminals get more respect than those of us who worked our azzzzes off to own homes and pay taxes while thugs sit around all day ruining my neighborhood!!! Mosby’s very biased Al Sharpton “no justice no peace” speech is already coming back to haunt her…….

      • Lynne on said:

        It never ceases to amaze me how when a police officer is accused of killing or beating someone to death, people start to say”what about black on black crime”. That’s the only time they are concerned. If you are so concerned about black on black crime, what are you doing to make a difference other than complaining? The difference between black on black crime and police officers are, Black offenders are immediatley arrested, procsecuted and convicted to pay for their crimes. Why should we not hold police officers to the same standards? If you mistakingly kill someone, you can’t say”oops my bad” you have to pay for that life. You don’t have the right to take someones life, no matter who you are or what you say they are. Thug, drug dealer, thef, or whatever else name you what to call them. You just thank God you didn’t get killed when you did your dirt, we all have some skeletons, even you!

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