Right Hooks

Cop in Freddie Gray Trials Found Not Guilty

The city accused Nero of assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

Dan Gilmore · May 23, 2016
Freddie Gray

It’s official: The first of the six officers the City of Baltimore is prosecuting over the death of Freddie Gray has been cleared. On Monday, a Maryland judge found Officer Edward Nero not guilty of all four of the charges relating to the April 2015 arrest that left Gray with a spinal injury, from which the Baltimore resident eventually died. Nero’s involvement with the arrest was minimal. During the trial, Nero said the only time he touched Gray was when he helped him up after the man was handcuffed. And for that, the city accused Nero of assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

Nero wasn’t the first officer to be tried in connection to Gray’s death. Officer William Porter’s trail, held back in December, stalled with a hung jury, and so the man will be tried again.

The verdict in Nero’s trial shows the extent to which the city is trying to pin blame on its police force. After the judge announced his decision, the city issued a statement reminding people Nero must still undergo administrative review. In September, the city was settling with Gray’s family at a tune of $6.4 million. It was assuming the six officers were guilty and was furthering the “racist cop” narrative. These days it is grasping at the meager straws that remain.

As for the remaining officers, the question as to whether Freddie Gray had a potentially illegal knife on him never arose during Nero’s trial. Reason’s Jacob Sullum noted last year that Baltimore’s vague knife law helps the officers argue that their arrest of Gray was lawful. It’s another argument the embattled officers can use to their defense against this seemingly frivolous prosecution.

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