BALTIMORE - Baltimore police Officer Edward Nero has been found not guilty of all charges for his part in the events leading to the death of Freddie Gray. Judge Barry Williams announced his decision Monday after a bench trial.
Nero was charged with second-degree intentional assault, two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
This is the first verdict in the Gray case. The case against William Porter, the first officer to go on trial, ended in a mistrial in December after jurors couldn't agree on a verdict. Four officers have yet to stand trial -- Miller, Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Caesar Goodson Jr.. The trial for Goodson, the van driver, will start June 6.
The verdict comes more than a year after Gray's death on April 19, 2015. Gray became a symbol of the black community's distrust of police and triggered days of violent protests. Gray was black. Three of the officers charged are white, three are black.
Community leaders and elected officials have appealed for calm. The citizens of Baltimore had demanded justice, they said, and that process is playing itself out.
"Whatever may be Judge Barry Williams' decision with respect to Officer Nero's role in the death of Mr. Freddie Gray, that verdict will have as much legitimacy as our society and our justice system can provide," Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings said last week.
"I join the mothers, the fathers, the children ... of Baltimore asking not only for peace but respect for the rule of law."
Nero was charged with second-degree assault for allegedly touching Gray during an arrest that prosecutors said was illegal; and with two counts of misconduct; and reckless endangerment for not putting a seat belt on Gray when he put the prisoner in a police van.
Gray died from spinal injuries after being shackled without a seat belt in the van.