A judge issued the first clear verdict Monday to a Baltimore police officer charged in Freddie Gray’s death. Officer Edward Nero is not guilty on four counts, Judge Barry Williams ruled.
Nero was charged in connection with his role in Gray’s arrest. He was one of the police on bicycle patrol in West Baltimore who chased Gray through to the Gilmor Homes prior to his arrest. Prosecutors argued that the arrest was unjustified because police lacked probable cause, and also charged Nero for putting Gray into the back of a police van without buckling him in.
Nero was the first of six officers to be tried in the case in the coming months. He opted for a bench trial, leaving the verdict up to the judge rather than a jury.
Billy Murphy, the attorney for Gray’s family, told WJZ-TV that he found the process to be fair and called Williams “a credit to this bench.”
“There was all kind of pressure for him to go in the other direction, and he showed tremendous courage in ruling against public opinion,” he said.
Lt. Gene Ryan, the president of Baltimore’s police union, said Nero is “relieved that for him, this nightmare is nearing an end.” He called on State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to drop charges against the other five police officers charged in the case, saying she “seized a political opportunity” in charging the officers following last year’s riots.
Nero won’t immediately head back to the beat, however. He will remain on administrative duty while police continue an internal investigation in connection with the case. Outside police departments are handling the review, and won’t complete their work until all of the trials are finished, said police spokesman T.J. Smith.
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