Gray died from spinal cord injuries a week after being arrested and given a “rough ride” in the back of a police van. His death sparked a massive uprising as residents protested the volatile relationship it shares with local police. Nero, 30, was one of six officers involved in Gray’s April 2015 death. He was charged with reckless endangerment, four misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault and two counts of misconduct in office.
This was the second trial in the prosecutor’s pursuit of justice for Gray. The first, the trial of Officer William Porter, ended in a mistrial in December. Per the Baltimore Sun regarding Nero’s trial:
Prosecutors had argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray without justification, while the reckless endangerment charge related to Nero’s role in putting Gray into an arrest wagon without buckling a seat belt. In closing arguments Thursday, Williams had skeptically questioned prosecutors about their theory of assault, which legal experts said was unprecedented.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a statement following the verdict. “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,” Rawlings-Blake said. “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.”
Baltimore Police Department spokesperson T.J. Smith says that Nero will continue to work for the department in an administrative capacity, and that the internal investigation will not happen until the conclusion of all the other criminal cases. Next up is the June 6 trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr, who drove the police van. The other trials will happen as follows: Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (September 6 retrial) and Sgt. Alicia White (October 13).