Four of the officers accused have yet to have a trial, while the van driver involved has one set up in June.
Baltimore, Maryland (CNN)
[Breaking news update at 11:04 a.m. ET]
Baltimore police Officer Edward Nero has been found not guilty of all charges for his part in the events leading to the death of Freddie Gray. Judge Barry Williams announced his decision Monday after a bench trial. Nero was charged with second-degree intentional assault, two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
[Original story published at 12:15 a.m. ET]
When a Baltimore judge on Monday decides the fate of one of six officers charged in the Freddie Gray case, a city that seethed with unrest over the death of the 25-year-old prisoner will get its long-awaited first verdict.
The line of questioning by Judge Barry Williams during trial last week could signal the final outcome. He strongly challenged prosecutors’ claim that the takedown and subsequent arrest of Gray without probable cause amounted to a criminal assault.
The verdict in the bench trial comes more than a year after Gray’s death on April 19, 2015, became a symbol of the black community’s distrust of police and triggered days of violent protests. Gray was black. Three of the officers charged are white, three are black.
Closing arguments in the trial of Police Officer Edward Nero — the second officer to be tried — concluded Thursday.
Community leaders and elected officials have appealed for calm. The citizens of Baltimore had demanded justice, they said, and that process is playing itself out.
“Whatever may be Judge Barry Williams’ decision with respect to Officer Nero’s role in the death of Mr. Freddie Gray, that verdict will have as much legitimacy as our society and our justice system can provide,” Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings said last week.
“I join the mothers, the fathers, the children … of Baltimore asking not only for peace but respect for the rule of law.”
Nero is charged with second-degree assault for allegedly touching Gray during an arrest that prosecutors said was illegal; and with two counts of misconduct; and reckless endangerment for not putting a seat belt on Gray when he put the prisoner in a police van.
Gray died from spinal injuries after being shackled without a seat belt in the van.
Williams last week aggressively questioned prosecutors about their assertion that Nero and other officers assaulted Gray by touching him without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
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