Baltimore police officer found not guilty in death of Freddie Gray


Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty of assault, reckless endangerment, or misconduct in office in the death of Freddie Gray, a Maryland judge ruled Monday morning.

Nero was one of six officers charged last year after 25-year-old Gray died of a spinal fracture while being transported to a jail on April 19, 2015. His death led to several days of huge protests in the city.

The verdict was handed down by Judge Barry Williams after Nero declined a jury trial. His trial finished last week. Five more officers charged in Gray’s death are still awaiting trials, including several for more serious charges like homicide. Last December, the case against another of the six officers, William Porter, resulted in a mistrial after jurors couldn’t come to a consensus.

According to prosecutors, Nero had assaulted Gray by touching him during an illegal arrest and recklessly endangered his life by not putting a seat belt on the prisoner when he loaded him into a police van.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby made waves when she announced the charges of the six men, unlike other prosecutors around the country who declined to charge police officers who shot or killed black men. But as Nero’s acquittal shows, just prosecuting officers is very different from actually winning guilty verdicts.

Even as media attention to police killings has skyrocketed over the last two years, actual punishments for officers implicated in on-the-job deaths has dragged behind. In all of 2015—when the number of cops charged with murder and manslaughter reached record highs—not a single officer was convicted.

Here’s a glance at where some of the highest-profile cases now stand:

In a statement, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the city police department would give Nero an administrative review. “This is our American system of justice, and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state, and country,” she said.

Meanwhile, the city’s police union celebrated the verdict. For Nero, “this nightmare is nearing an end,” Lt. Gene Ryan, the president of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, said in a statement. The prosecutors, Ryan said, “seized a political opportunity and in the process destroyed 6 lives and demolished the relationship between the Baltimore Police department and their own office.”

We will continue to update this post throughout the day.

Michael Rosen and Nidhi Prakash contributed reporting.

Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.

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