A Baltimore judge found police officer Edward Nero not guilty on Monday for his part in the arrest of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody last year.
Nero was charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and two counts of misconduct in office. Prosecutors had argued that Nero assaulted Gray by detaining him without cause, and that placing him in a police van without fastening a seatbelt amounted to reckless endangerment.
Nero asked to be tried by a judge instead of a jury, and the decision from Judge Barry Williams comes after six days of hearings. Nero is one of six officers charged in connection with Gray’s arrest and death.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement Monday:
This is our American system of justice and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state, and country. Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Officer Nero will face an administrative review by the Police Department. We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion.
The police officers arrested Gray on April 12, 2015 for reasons that remain unclear. Gray had attempted to run away. After he was detained and searched, officers found a switch blade in Gray’s pocket, which is illegal to carry in Baltimore. Gray was loaded into a police van and placed in leg shackles. During the half-hour drive to jail, he sustained a spinal injury, which he died from in the hospital a week later.