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Baltimore Police Officer Acquitted in Freddie Gray Case


Officer Edward Nero, from left, Lt. Brian Rice and Officer Garrett Miller three of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, arrive to Maryland Court of Appeals on March 3, 2016, in Annapolis, Md.

A Baltimore police officer was found not guilty on charges related to the death of Freddie Gray, a young African-American man who died last year after suffering severe injuries in the back of a police van.

Officer Edward Nero faced charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

He was acquitted Monday of the charges following a bench trial, which he had requested. Nero faced up to 10 years in prison if he had been convicted.

Prosecutors say the 30-year-old officer unlawfully arrested Gray, 25, on April 12, 2015 without probable cause and failed to secure him in the police van with a seatbelt.

Attorneys for Nero argued he did not make the arrest and that it was the driver's responsibility to ensure that Gray was secure.

Gray was handcuffed and shackled by his feet, but not buckled in to the seat after being arrested. It has been alleged this caused his body to slam against the side of the van, severing his spinal cord and leaving him in a coma.

Gray died on April 19, 2015. His death led to riots in black neighborhoods in Baltimore with protesters marching against police treatment of young African-Americans.

The city agreed in September to pay Gray's family $6.4 million to settle civil litigation in the case.

Five other officers are facing charges. Three of them are black. The other two are white. Nero is white.

Nero was the second officer to go to trial in the case. Officer William Porter, who is black, awaits a second trial after his first ended in a hung jury in December.

The van's driver, Officer Caesar Goodson, faces the most serious charge of second-degree depraved-heart murder for refusing to take Gray to the hospital and instead stopping to pick up another prisoner. Goodson is also black.