Baltimore police Officer Edward Nero was acquitted on Monday in the April 2015 death of black detainee, Freddie Gray. Nero was held on second-degree intentional assault, two counts of misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment.
Marilyn Mosby, State Attorney, charged Nero for the arrest of Gray without probable cause because Gray had run from Nero and the other officers “unprovoked” in an area with high crime rate. Lt. Gene Ryan, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3, accused Mosby of “leveling charges not as the product of a ‘meaningful investigation’ but as a response to riots in the city after Gray’s death,” according to CNN.
Gray died of a spine injury known as a “diving injury,” in which the head stops moving but the body does not. Joseph McGowan, a biomedical engineer, testified that the injury could have been avoided had Gray been restrained by a seatbelt in the van.
Nero was one of six officers charged with the death of Freddie Gray, but only the second to have a formal trial. Nero’s trial was a bench trial, at his request, which means that Circuit Judge Barry Williams, was solely responsible for deciding whether or not Nero was guilty. The first trial was a trial by jury, and ended in a hung jury.
Nero faced up to a 15-year prison sentence, but walked out a free man. According to CNN, Gray family attorney, Bill Murphy, said, “You can’t convict people unless you know the evidence,” while he and his family applauded the non-guilty verdict.
Murphy also applauded Judge Williams as an African-American judge for not “bending to the pressure” from the black community.
The NAACP also issued a statement following Nero’s acquittal saying that “In spite of today’s verdict, [they] await justice for Freddie Gray.” The NAACP also “urge[s] the community to let their voices be heard in nonviolent protest as we seek justice for a violent death.”