Officer cleared of all charges in Freddie Gray case
BALTIMORE – Prosecutors failed for the second time in their bid to hold Baltimore police accountable for the arrest and death of Freddie Gray when an officer was acquitted Monday in the racially charged case that triggered riots a year ago.
A judge cleared Officer Edward Nero of assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct, concluding that Nero played little role in Gray’s arrest and wasn’t responsible for the failure to buckle the black man into the police van where he suffered a broken neck.
Upon hearing the verdict, Nero hugged his attorney and appeared to wipe away a tear.
Nero, who is white, was the second of six officers charged in the case to stand trial. The manslaughter case against Officer William Porter ended in a mistrial in December when the jury deadlocked. Prosecutors plan to retry him in September.
Nero’s lawyers said he and his wife and family are “elated that this nightmare is finally over.”
“The state’s attorney for Baltimore City rushed to charge him, as well as the other five officers, completely disregarding the facts of the case and the applicable law,” they said in a statement.
Prosecutors had no comment; they are under a gag order.
Trial No. 3 – that of van driver Caesar Goodson, who prosecutors believe is most culpable in Gray’s death – is set to begin in two weeks. He is charged with second-degree murder.
David Weinstein, a Florida attorney and former federal civil rights prosecutor who has been following the case, said the verdict will probably serve as a “wake-up call” for prosecutors.
Gray died a week after suffering a spinal injury in the back of the van while he was handcuffed and shackled but not belted in.