Angel, a friend of Freddie Gray, reacts to the acquittal verdict in Officer Nero's case.
Angel, a friend of Freddie Gray, reacts to the acquittal verdict in Officer Nero's case. (J.M. Giordano/City Paper)

Accused Baltimore City Police Officer Edward Nero was acquitted of charges all charges relating to the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray. Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams announced his verdict Monday morning, reading from a written statement.

Nero faced charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office.

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At issue during the six-day trial: the question of how much of a role Nero played in Gray's arrest, and whether his actions were malicious and intentional.

Williams said that he could find no evidence that Nero acted with malice, or that Nero's actions on April 12 were in any way out of line from what a reasonable officer would do.

Among the reasons Williams gave for his decision was testimony given by Officer Garrett Miller, who is also facing charges stemming the incident.

"It was Miller who detained Mr. Gray, Miller who cuffed Gray," Williams said.

The state had argued that, in a statement given to police after the arrest, Nero used the words "we" when describing the incident, which would include Nero. But Williams said that the "we" did not implicate Nero for Miller's actions.

The state also placed blame on Nero for not opening an email the Baltimore City Police Department sent out to all officers, alerting them that they must secure all passengers in police transport vehicles with seat belts. Williams said that he could not be sure that Nero had ever received that email. He also cited further department conduct rules mandating that officers get written copies of all policy changes, in addition to email notification. Williams said he had no evidence that had been done.

Finally, the state argued that Nero's neglect to seat belt Gray inside the police transport van constituted reckless endangerment. Williams said that it would not have necessarily been Nero's job to do so, given the fact that there were two other officers assisting in getting Gray into the van.

Shortly after the verdict was announced, Baltimore City Police spokesperson T.J. Smith issued a statement announcing that Nero would remain on administrative duty.

"Although the criminal case against Officer Edward Nero has come to a close, the internal investigation has not," the statement read. "The internal investigation will not be completed until all of the criminal cases against the other five officers are completed because they will likely be witnesses in each case."

UPDATE: The court's Office of Communications and Public Affairs has released a full transcript of Judge Williams' statements.

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