Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty Monday on all four charges in connection with his alleged part in the April 2015 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
Nero, 30, had pleaded not guilty to all charges he faced following the arrest and subsequent death of Gray, who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody, leading to his death a week later on April 19, 2015. Nero elected for a bench trial, leaving Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams to decide his fate, ABC News reports.
Prosecutors charged that Nero had had no regard for Gray’s safety after he failed to place Gray, who was restrained in stomach shackles, in a seat belt once Gray was placed inside the back of a police van.
Judge Williams questioned the prosecution during closing arguments about whether Nero’s actions constituted a crime.
“So, every time there’s an arrest without probable justification—it is a crime?” the judge asked, ABC News reports.
“We believe that the search and arrest without justification are assault, your honor,” Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe responded. “There’s no question about that.”
Nero’s attorney Marc Zayon not only argued that his client’s actions were legal but also said the fact that his client was on trial was ridiculous.
“I can’t believe I even have to argue this,” Zayon said, according to ABC News. “The detention is OK, the cuffing is OK, the moving is OK,” he said. “Being detained is a horrible thing, being cuffed is a horrible thing … but the law allows it.”
Last week, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) asked that the residents of Baltimore respect the judge’s decision in a peaceful manner.
“Whatever may be Judge Barry Williams’ decision with respect to Officer Nero’s role in the death of Freddie Gray, that verdict will have as much legitimacy as our society and our justice system can provide,” Cummings said. “We will respect the decision.”
Read more at ABC News.