Monday saw another disappointment for many in the Black community, as a police officer who involved in the murder of Freddie Gray, the black man who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody, was acquitted on four charges. This brought up questions about whether or not any of the six police officers who were charged would be convicted in connection with Gray’s death.
The trial against Officer Nero, 30, opened up with hope as Judge Barry G. Williams stated:
“The state has charged the defendant with assault, misconduct in office by corruptly performing an unlawful act, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office by corruptly failing to do an act that is required by the duties of his office.
In order to convict the defendant of assault, the state must prove that the defendant caused offensive physical contact with Freddie Gray, that the contact was a result of an intentional or reckless act of the defendant, and was not accidental, and that the contact was not legally justified.”
The acquittal of one police officer, just months after the mistrial of another has now left activists frustrated, to say the least, and some experts have said that the other officers involved in the case can go unpunished as well. A former federal prosecutor in Maryland, Steve Levin, said “It’s not looking great. These are weak cases. It’s easy to bring charges against officers. But it’s much harder to prove them.”
As CNN reported, “officer Nero was not an integral part of Gray’s detention and arrest” which could have been why he was acquitted on all charges. It was Lieutenant Brian Rice who began to chase Gray, both Edward Nero and Officer Garrett Miller was called to help Lieutenant Rice.
Williams revealed his verdict, much to many activists’ dismay.
“Since the defendant’s contact with Mr. Gray came after Mr. Gray was detained by Miller, this Court finds that the contact by the defendant was legally justified and not reckless. Therefore, as alleged by the State, there is no assault by the defendant… The Court does not find that the defendant detained Mr. Gray at the ramp, nor does the court find that any actions by the defendant turned the detention into an arrest; the initial contact concerning detention and arrest occurred when Miller, acting alone, interacted with Mr. Gray,” Williams said.
Even though it isn’t clear about the other four officers, hopefully justice will be served in the name of Freddie Gray.
(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)