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Arresting Officer in Freddie Gray Case Found Not Guilty

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on May 23, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Baltimore policeman Edward Nero, implicated in the death of Freddie Gray last year, was found not guilty of all criminal charges. Nero was tried before a judge and is the second officer of six charged to stand trial for Gray's death.

But Nero is the first to resolve his case, according to Slate. A trial last year for Officer William Porter ended in a hung jury and the case will be tried again. Perhaps informed by Porter's experience, Nero opted for a bench trial, meaning this case was argued before a judge only and not a jury. It was a good choice for him, considering he was found not guilty.

The State's Arguments

The judge reportedly accepted Officer Nero's defense and was said to be unconvinced by the state's case throughout the five-day trial. His hesitation may have stemmed from the state's arguments, which essentially blamed Nero for his involvement in an arrest with no probable cause and called for judicial scrutiny of day-to-day policing.

Prosecutors said Nero, who was on bike patrol and asked to chase Gray, should not have aided in the arrest without inquiring as to the circumstances. Nero should have asked why his fellow officers were chasing Freddy Gray, rather than just following orders and going after the fleeing suspect, the state argued.

But Judge Barry Williams was not buying it. According to Slate, he "made [that] abundantly clear ... at one point asking Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe whether she was suggesting that every time there is an arrest without probable cause, it is a crime."

The Defense's Arguments

The defense argued that Nero had a limited role in the arrest and did not arrest or cuff Gray. Judge Williams apparently accepted this, in part based on witness testimony corroborating the claim that Nero did not contribute as much to Gray's arrest as other officers.

Next Up

Another officer is scheduled to stand trial next month, on June 6, and there are four more cases to resolve after that. The Baltimore Police Department issued a statement after Nero's case concluded today, saying he will remain under internal investigation and on administrative duties until all of the officers implicated in Freddie Gray's death have resolved their criminal cases.

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