Edward Nero (c. 1986- ), a Baltimore police officer, was one of the three officers who chased down Freddie Gray on April 12th 2015. Gray would later die in police custody, leading to riots in Baltimore.
Nero is one of six officers charged with crimes in the death of Freddie Gray. He is the second the stand trial. On Monday May 23rd 2016 he was found not guilty on all charges.
It was a long shot: Never before in Maryland history has a police officer been charged with a crime for making an arrest. Officers who make an unconstitutional arrest generally either drop the charges, throw out any evidence found – or are sued for damages.
Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe said the people of Baltimore were “jacked up all the time” and that officers must justify their actions. The Nero case, at the very least, puts officers on notice that they might be charged with a crime for a bad arrest.
Lawmakers and judges, though, generally give police officers the benefit of the doubt.
On top of that, to prove a crime in a case like this, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. There was nothing like that in this case. Officer Garrett Miller, the one who put the handcuffs on Freddie Gray and made the arrest, said Nero was off getting their bicycles at that time. Even a friend of Freddie Gray said Nero was not there.
One other thing Nero was charged with was for not making sure Gray had his seat belt on after helping to put him into the back of the of the police van. That is what led to Gray’s death. There was even an email that went out just three days before saying that suspects must always have their seat belt on.
But the judge said that because Nero had little training and was not in charge, it was not “reasonable” for him to question why Gray was not being seat-belted. He got the email, sure, but who reads that stuff? It had not been brought up at any of the daily roll calls, so he may well have not even known about it.
Nero continues to work for the Baltimore police, but will not return to the streets till after all six trials are completed and the investigation (done by another police department) can be closed.
The first officer to go on trial was William Porter. The jury of eight Blacks and four Whites could not agree on a verdict. The judge declared a mistrial. Porter will be tried again in September. Nero himself had forgone a jury trial: judges tend to strictly follow case law, which favours the police.
Next to go on trial, in two weeks, is Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., he who drove the van. He is charged with second-degree murder since it was his duty to make sure Gray was seat-belted. If he is not found guilty, it seems unlikely anyone else will.
– Abagond, 2016.