Officer Nero trial: What you need to know about Monday's verdict

Judge Barry G. Williams is scheduled to issue a ruling Monday in the case of Officer Edward Nero, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. Nero, 30, is charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office, all related to his role in Gray's initial detention and arrest on April 12, 2015.

Nero has pleaded not guilty to the charges.


Gray, 25, suffered severe spinal cord injuries while in the back of a Baltimore police van, prosecutors say. He died a week later.

Williams is expected to hand down his ruling at 10:30 a.m.


The charges

Second-degree assault carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Reckless endangerment carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. Misconduct in office does not carry a set term limit. All charges are misdemeanors.

The defendant

Officer Edward Nero, a former New Jersey volunteer firefighter who joined the Baltimore Police Department in 2012, is one of three officers who were on bike patrol when they chased and arrested Gray. He is suspended with pay from the police force, per policy.

What has happened thus far?

The trial lasted six days, with the prosecution calling 14 witnesses and the defense calling seven before closing statements Thursday. Prosecutors are alleging that Gray's arrest was an assault because it did not meet the standards of a legal detention. Legal analysts have called the theory unusual. The defense has sought to minimize Nero's role in the arrest, saying for example he had touched Gray only once. The defense has argued that the officer followed his training.

Why isn't there a jury?

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Nero elected to have a bench trial rather than a jury trial, leaving his fate in the hands of a judge. Marc Zayon, Nero's attorney, said he and his client discussed the pros and cons of forgoing a jury "a million times." Zayon noted that hung juries — like the one in Porter's trial in December — can lead to prosecutors' choosing to "try you over and over and over again," suggesting that Nero saw the bench trial as a quicker path to a resolution.


The judge

Barry G. Williams has been a Circuit Court judge since 2005, following a career as an assistant city state's attorney and a special litigation counsel with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, a role in which he traveled the country trying federal police misconduct cases. Williams has presided over all the cases involving the officers charged in Gray's arrest since the fall.

What's next?

Five more Baltimore police officers charged in Gray's arrest and death are set to go on trial between June and October. Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of the van, is slated to go on trial June 6. His trial is to be followed by those of Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (Sept. 6) and Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13). Porter's case is a retrial after his December trial ended in a hung jury. All the officers have pleaded not guilty.

How can I follow the verdict?

The Sun is hosting a live blog with updates Monday morning.