The first verdict is in for one of the officers tried in the death of Freddie Gray: not guilty.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams found Officer Edward Nero, 30, not guilty of all charges Monday, The Baltimore Sun reports. The officer elected to have a bench trial, which means he waved his right to a jury trial and allowed the judge to decide his fate.
Prosecutors hit Nero with misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment as well as two counts of misconduct in office, which could have landed him with up to 15 years in prison.
The prosecution argued that Nero was wrong in detaining Gray without a good reason and for not buckling him into the van. Five other officers were involved in the death. Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. will be the next tried, set to begin June 6.
Police arrested Gray in April and transported him in the back of a police van. The details are unclear with conflicting accounts, but Gray appeared healthy when arrested and was severely injured within an hour after his encounter with police. His spinal cord was severely damaged and he died a week later from the injuries.
Baltimore Police Officer William Porter, 26, was the first of six officers to be tried, but the case was declared a mistrial. All will be tried separately. Porter, who is black, is charged with reckless endangerment, misconduct, assault and involuntary manslaughter. Although he did not arrest Gray, he is accused of not properly buckling him into the van, which may have allowed him to slide around in the back, potentially causing the injury.
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