A Baltimore officer was acquitted Monday of assault and other charges in the arrest of Freddie Gray, dealing prosecutors a significant blow in their attempt to hold police accountable for the young black man’s death from injuries he suffered in the back of a police van.
A judge also found Officer Edward Nero not guilty of reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. The assault charge carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and reckless endangerment carried a punishment of up to five years.
Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after his neck was broken in the back of a police transport van while he was handcuffed and shackled but left unrestrained by a seat belt.
Nero was one of six officers charged in the case. He waived his right to a jury trial, opting instead to argue his case before Circuit Judge Barry Williams.
Officer William Porter’s manslaughter trial ended in a hung jury in December.
Gray’s death set off more than a week of protests followed by looting, rioting and arson that prompted a citywide curfew. His name became a rallying cry in the growing national conversation about the treatment of black men by police officers.
Prosecutors said Nero unlawfully detained Gray and acted callously when he made a decision not to buckle Gray into a seat belt when he was loaded into the back of a transport vehicle.
Nero’s attorney argues that his client didn’t arrest Gray and that it is the police van driver’s responsibility to buckle in detainees. The defense argued that the officers who responded that day acted responsibly, and called witnesses to bolster their argument that any reasonable officer in Nero’s position would have made the same decisions.
The defense also sought to convince the judge that the department’s order requiring that all inmates be strapped in is more suggestion than rule because officers are expected to act with discretion based on the circumstances of each situation.
The other officers are set to each have separate trials over the summer and into the fall. Nero is white and Porter is black. Two of the other officers charged in the case are white and two are black.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Alan Humphries says
This was a sham from the get go.
Calvin Harwick says
Only in America can phony charges be brought against some one only to appease a certain element of our “diverse” society.
Arthur Hartsock says
This isn’t 100% on topic, but I have started watching the “Wire” HBO series once more. This show is set in Baltimore, and it is amazingly true to life. The sad part is that the young-and mostly black-people of Baltimore’s inner city have no where to go but crime to survive. Unfortunately, this problem wasn’t created overnight, and even with honest and moral leadership it will take years to correct. The Police in Baltimore are in a no win situation. And all of the honest upright men in blue in Baltimore are true super heroes.
Connie Condra says
I am sorry, but EVERYONE has a choice. To say otherwise is to provide an excuse to those who choose criminal behavior as a way of life and a slap in the face to those who choose an honest way of life. Programs such as you describe are developed by the liberial media to excuse bad behavior.
Justice was served
FED UP says
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise the racist prosecutor Marilyn Mosby had no evidence against this officer from the onset of this trial.
The officer did nothing to cause the death of this low life criminal. The officer was prosecuted because Mosby tried to save face with her kind. Mosby is responsible for the mayhem that took place in Baltimore. Thank god the officer chose to have his trial presented in front of a judge, an African American judge named Barry Williams who has integrity and an impeccable career as a judge. I only hope that Officer Nero’s attorney files a malicious prosecution suit against the City of Baltimore, The Baltimore Prosecuting Attorney’s office and Mosby. Marilyn Mosby is an embarrassment and should be disbarred as an attorney and never be allowed to practice law in this country. Mosby is an arrogant racist. Maybe the NWACP or the ACLU will help Officer Nero with a malicious prosecution but I doubt it. The racist domestic terror organization Black Lives Matter are also to blame and should be prosecuted as well, but we all know that our racist President and his lackey Loretta Lynch will never consider this, talk about a double standard. You wonder why people in this country are FED UP with this bullshit.