Freddie Gray Arresting Officer Edward Nero Found Not Guilty On All Charges
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Freddie Gray arresting officer Edward Nero was found not guilty on all counts by Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams Monday morning.
Nero faced charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.
Nero waived his right to a trial by jury. His bench trial began May 12 and final arguments were heard Thursday.
WJZ’s Ron Matz says the verdict announcement was attended by a group of Baltimore City police officers, most in plain clothes. After the verdict was read, they came up to Nero one by one, embracing him and patting him on the back. Nero was seen with tears in his eyes.
Gray, a 25-year-old black man from the Sandtown area of Baltimore, died on April 19, 2015 of a spinal cord injury he sustained while in police custody.
His death set off more than a week of protests followed by looting, rioting and arson that prompted a citywide curfew.
Gray family attorney Billy Murphy spoke with WJZ outside the courtroom.
“I have to commend Judge Williams on not being influenced by public opinion,” Murphy said. “It’s a very, very difficult job to sit as a judge under these enormously stressful conditions, and once again Barry Williams has shown he is a fair and impartial man… He showed tremendous courage in ruling against public opinion.”
“I don’t think anybody should be upset with this verdict nor do I think anybody should have been elated about a guilty verdict,” he added. “Only the people who sat through this trial and heard all of the evidence have a right to have an opinion about whether his opinion was fair and whether or not it was warranted under the circumstances. So we should all understand that we all have opinions, but unless they’re based on the facts and all of the facts, those opinions are essentially irrelevant to this process.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake shared a similar sentiment in a statement she released shortly after the verdict was handed down.
“Today Judge Barry G. Williams found Officer Edward Nero not guilty of all criminal charges. 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. Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Officer Nero will face an administrative review by the Police Department. We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion. In the case of any disturbance in the city, we are prepared to respond. We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city.”
Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 responded positively to the verdict shortly after it was announced.
Statement regarding acquittal of BPD Officer Edward Nero pic.twitter.com/JK4RGXavKE
— Baltimore City FOP (@FOP3) May 23, 2016