Freddie Gray officer trial verdict: Edward Nero not guilty on all counts
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - A judge on Monday cleared Officer Edward Nero of all charges in the Freddie Gray case.
Officer Nero was facing charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office in connection with Gray's arrest and later death.
As Judge Barry Williams read the verdict, he named Officer Garrett Miller as the one who detained and arrested Gray.
Even though Nero used "we" in recorded statements, Judge Williams said "we handcuffed" did not imply guilt. According to Judge Williams, Nero acted legally, did not assault Gray and did not intend for any crime to occur.
Nero chose a bench trial over a jury trial during a motions hearing on May 10 and the trial began two days later. The verdict is the first to be handed down in the Gray case; the trial for Officer William Porter ended with a hung jury in December.
During Nero's trial, prosecutors argued that the arrest was made without probable cause and that, therefore, an assault occurred when officers touched Gray during his detainment. Throughout the trial the state asserted that that the search and arrest of Gray were without justification and that Nero was negligent by not buckling Gray into the police van.
The defense argued that Nero was not an arresting officer and did not have contact with Gray until after he was handcuffed. Defense witnesses testified that Nero and other officers were not properly trained on seat belt policies -- and claimed there were safety concerns for the officers.
Gray was arrested on April 12, 2015 after he reportedly "fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence." The police report states Gray was "arrested without force or incident."
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According to the police report, Gray "suffered a medical emergency" during transport in a police van. When officers attempted to remove him from the wagon, he was found to be in cardiac arrest by a responding medic. He underwent surgery at Shock Trauma at the University of Maryland Medical Center and died on April 19, 2015.
Six Baltimore Police officers were charged in connection the case. The next officer trial, for Caesar Goodson, is scheduled to begin on June 6.
Goodson was the driver of the police van and faces the most serious charges of the six officers involved in the case: second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.