Edward Nero has been found not guilty on all counts related to the death of Freddie Gray. On Monday morning Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams acquitted Nero of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. Nero was the arresting officer in the case of Freddie Gary, a 25-year-old man, who died in police custody on on April 19, 2015 due to spinal injuries that occured during his arrest.
Nero is one of six police officers that were charged in relation to to Gray’s death. He was the second to be tried. The first officer, Officer William Porter, saw his trial end in a hung jury and mistrial back in December. The four other officers involved in the case Officer Garrett Miller, Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. have not yet been tried.
Nero’s trial began on May 12. He waived his right to a trial by jury and instead opted for a bench trial. Final arguments were heard on May 19 with the decision being announced on Monday, May 23. The decision was announced to a crowd of protestors outside the courthouse and was answered by a “roar of disapproval” according to WJZ’s Mike Schuh. Police are on high alert, Gray’s death sparked more than a week of protests followed by looting, rioting and arson that eventually ended after a citywide curfew was imposed.
Despite disapproval from those that supported Gray Nero is relieved for the ordeal to be over. He was seen in the courthouse with tears in his eyes after the decision was announced and has received support of his own from other members of the community. Several members of the Baltimore City Police Department attended the trail and could be seen giving Nero pats on the back and consoling him after the trial ended. Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 also issued the following statement on Twitter:
Statement regarding acquittal of BPD Officer Edward Nero pic.twitter.com/JK4RGXavKE
— Baltimore City FOP (@FOP3) May 23, 2016
Nero also received support from some unlikely sources. Gray family attorney Billy Murphy issued the following statement commending Judge Barry Williams on his ability to remain impartial in spite of the public’s demand to see Nero charged to the full extend of the law. He said to WJZ:
“I have to commend Judge Williams on not being influenced by public opinion, It’s a very, very difficult job to sit as a judge under these enormously stressful conditions, and once again Barry Williams has shown he is a fair and impartial man… He showed tremendous courage in ruling against public opinion.I don’t think anybody should be upset with this verdict nor do I think anybody should have been elated about a guilty verdict,”
While Nero may have been cleared of criminal charges the case of Freddie Gray is far from over. He is set to face an administrative review by the Police Department. The remaining four officers involved in the case are still waiting to be tried for their involvement in the case. Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. is the next police officer to face trial. The trial, which has already been delayed once, is set to begin June 6.
Do you think the other police officers will face criminal charges for their involvement in the case? Sound off in the comment section!