The Baltimore police officer involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray was found not guilty today by Judge Barry Williams.
Officer Edward Nero was charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. He was acquitted of all charges.
Prosecutors involved in the case focused on Nero’s arrest of Gray, which was without probable cause, and the failure to secure him in the van. Defense attorneys claimed that Gray was reciting arrest, thus making securely him “impossible” and that Nero was not trained to put seat belts on detainees. However, the Baltimore Police Department policy is that officers are required to strap in detainees, and several other men have come forward in the last year claiming that is a common practice for BPD law enforcement to purposefully not strap in detainees and then take them on ‘rough rides.’
Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American male, died after being arrested and improperly restrained in a police van. Nero and two other officers apprehended Gray in April 2015. When officers caught Gray they found an illegal knife on him. Police and witness accounts vary greatly as to the events of the arrest, with police claiming that it was “without force or incident” and witnesses claiming that unnecessary force was used. Video footage shows Gray being dragged by Nero and another officer to the police van.
Once inside the van, Gray was transported without a seat belt, causing him to be thrown around and causing injuries to his neck and spine. Gray fell into a coma and died a few days later in the hospital.
Gray’s death caused a series of protests, including a protest that turned violent in downtown Baltimore that led to several injuries and arrests.
Previously another officer involved, William Porter, was sent to trial over Gray’s death. His trial ended in December with a hung jury.