The first verdict in the Freddie Gray case has been given. Following the mistrial of Officer William G. Porter, Officer Edward Nero was acquitted of all charges. Officer Nero declined a jury, resulting in a bench trial that started May 12. He faced second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. Nero, is one of six officers being tried for the death of Freddie Gary.
Judge Barry Williams heard testimony that finished last week. The reason behind the verdict- Nero should not be held responsible for securing 25 year old Gray in the back of the van. When Gray arrived he was severely injured and non-responsive. After the trial, protesters were gathered around the courthouse, chanting, “No Justice! No Peace! Jail to the police,” while Nero was patted on the back from fellow officers outside of uniform. Nero left the courthouse with tears in his eyes. Shortly, via twitter Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 issued a statement. Gene Ryan and Chuck Canterbury are pleased with the verdict with the belief Nero was falsely accused. Judge Williams was also applauded for not succumbing to public pressure and charging Nero with evidence brought against him.
Last April Freddie Carlos Gray, also known as Freddie “Pepper” Gray, died while in police custody suffering from a spinal cord injury. Gray was handcuffed without being secured with a seat belt in the police van after being arrested without probable cause. Gray’s death left the city in outrage because of the unanswered questions many people have. This time last year the city was restored after a week of protest and city wide curfew during the month of April. The case of Freddie Gray was the tip of the iceberg for many, demanding justice and better policies for police officers. Nero is the first officer to receive a verdict. The next officer, whose trial will begin June 6th, is Caesar Goodson Jr. Goodson was the driver of the van, transporting Gray. Many believe the prosecution will have difficulties moving forward with the case.
After the trial Mayor Stephanie Rowlings-Blake issued a statement. Rowlings-Blake says we must protect our neighborhoods and businesses. She is prepared if a second unrest should occur. While twitter and other social media outlets are flooding with alerts, it is important to remember that Gray, himself was more than a hashtag.