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Edward Nero, Officer Charged in Death of Freddie Gray, Believes Arrest Was Legal

One of the six Baltimore cops charged in the death of Freddie Gray is disputing the chief prosecutor's claim that he was "illegally" arrested because the knife he was pocketing is permitted under state law.

In a motion filed Monday on behalf of Officer Edward Nero, his attorneys believe that the "spring assisted, one hand operated knife" obtained during Gray's April 12 arrest is not in fact legal — and therefore, his arrest was justified, reported NBC affiliate WBAL.

Gray was arrested under a Baltimore city ordinance prohibiting knives that open with the help of an automatic spring, and not under state law, Nero's attorneys said.

Nero wants the police department and Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby to produce the knife, which has not been revealed to the public, WBAL reported.

Mosby, who announced the charges Friday, said the knife was not a "switchblade" — as labeled in the police charging documents against Gray — but rather was "folded in," which is legal.

Nero's motion is the first insight into what the six arrested officers might think about the charges against them; none have spoken publicly since they were arrested and arraigned last week.

Nero, 29, has been with Baltimore police since 2012. He is one of the three officers who first encountered Gray on a West Baltimore street and began pursuing him, leading to the arrest.

Mosby said Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while being transported in a police van, and that officers neglected his initial pleas for medical attention.

Gray, 25, slipped into a coma and died April 19 — setting off riots and an overnight curfew in the city as officials urged for calm.

The officers were hit with multiple charges, including manslaughter, assault, misconduct and false imprisonment. Nero faces the lesser misdemeanor charges.

"We will litigate the issues of the legality of the arrest of Freddie Gray in the courtroom," his attorney, Mark Zayon, said in a statement to WBAL. "I am quite confident Officer Nero will be acquitted."

Mosby's office also released a statement, saying it would not reveal evidence in the case publicly before trial.

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— Erik Ortiz