Following a one-week trial, City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams on Monday declared Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero not guilty on all counts in the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal injury after his arrest by members of the city’s Police Department.
In his verdict, Judge Williams said there was “no credible facts” to demonstrate Officer Nero was involved in Gray’s arrest.
The charges against Nero revolve around injuries Gray suffered during his transport to the police station. Authorities say Gray suffered a serious spinal injury as a result of officers failing to properly strap Gray into a seat belt after he was apprehended.
Defense attorneys focused their case on the fact Officer Nero’s role in Gray’s arrest was limited to discovering Gray’s inhaler and Nero never came into physical contact with Gray at any time during the arrest.
Charged with second-degree intentional assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of officer misconduct, Nero had faced the possibility of a maximum ten-year sentence.
Spotted on April 12 by four police officers on bicycle patrol, Gray and another man fled as officers approached him in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore. Moments later, Gray surrendered and was placed under arrest.
Video of the incident shows three Baltimore police officers on the ground or near Gray as he lay on the sidewalk. Gray is filmed being dragged to a police vehicle shortly after.
Following the verdict, prosecutors had no comment.
“The state’s attorney for Baltimore city rushed to charge him (Nero), as well as the other five officers, completely disregarding the facts of the case and the applicable law. His 9Nero’s) hope is that the state’s attorney will reevaluate the remaining five officers’ cases and dismiss their charges. Like Officer Nero, these officers have done nothing wrong,” defense attorney Marc Zayon said.
Nero remains on administrative duty pending the outcome of an internal police review of his case.
Court trials for four other police officers remain. The trial for Officer William Porter, held previously, resulted in a hung jury.