Officer Edward Nero Found Not Guilty In Death Of Freddie Gray
Following a five-day bench trial, Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams has acquitted Officer Edward Nero of all counts for his role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.
Nero, 30, faced four misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. The prosecution had argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray without justification, while the reckless endangerment charge related to Nero’s role in putting Gray into an arrest wagon without buckling a seat belt.
As Nero leaned forward to hear the verdict, he wiped his eyes and hugged his attorneys afterwards.
Nero was the second of six city police officers charged in the case to stand trial. The first trial, of Officer William Porter, ended in a hung jury and mistrial last December. Nero is one of three officers who were on bike patrol when they chased and arrested Gray in West Baltimore. The 25-year-old suffered severe spinal cord injuries while in the back of a Baltimore police van and died a week later, which sparked citywide protests.
During Nero’s trial, the prosecution called in 14 witnesses and the defense called in seven before closing statements last Thursday.
Following the judge’s verdict, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for “citizens to be patient” after the events that transpired on the day of Freddie Gray’s funeral. “This is our American system of justice and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state and country,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Officer Nero will face an administrative review by the Police Department. We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion.”
With the city “prepared to respond” to any disturbance in the city, according to the mayor, Baltimore is ripe with angst after yet another unarmed death has happened. DeRay McKesson, an activist who ran for mayor in Baltimore and came up short, spoke on the verdict, saying, “[This case] is a reminder that we must continue to push for policies and laws related to the police department that explicitly calls for the preservation of life and that have clear lines of accountability. I am reminded that this is one of six trials as we seek accountability for the death of Freddie Gray.”
Up next will be the trial for Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of the van used to transport Gray. Set to begin on June 6, his trial is to be followed by those of Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (Sept. 6) and Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13).
H/T: Baltimore Sun