Edward Nero, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, was found not guilty of all charges Monday morning, May 23, 2016.
Nero, 30, was charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct after Freddie Gray was chased and detained by police on April 12, 2015 and found to be in possession of an illegal switchblade, then put in a police van in handcuffs without being secured in a seat belt, which resulted in spinal cord injuries that put Gray in a coma. He died a week later.
Prosecutors argued Nero helped arrest Gray without probable cause (Gray allegedly saw the police and began running, unprovoked; Nero and others gave chase, then discovered the switchblade) and that his negligence contributed to Gray’s death. Nero’s attorneys argued Nero and the other officers followed proper procedures.
Gray’s death sparked riots and looting in Baltimore. Like Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, it also renewed fierce debate over how African Americans, particularly young black men, are treated by the police — white and black officers alike (three of the officers charged are white, three are black). Research shows blacks are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, or killed by police than whites exhibiting identical behaviors.
Nero is the second officer brought to trial for Gray’s death. The trial of William Porter resulted in a hung jury.