A Maryland judge on Monday will hand down his verdict on a Baltimore police officer charged in the death of black detainee Freddie Gray, an incident that triggered protests and rioting in the majority-black city and stoked the Black Lives Matter movement.
Officer Edward Nero, 30, is charged with arresting Gray without justification in April 2015 and then failing to secure him in a transport van where he suffered a broken neck.
Nero is the second Baltimore officer to be tried in Baltimore City Circuit Court for Gray’s death. He waived his right to a jury trial and Judge Barry Williams will render the verdict.
Nero was among three bicycle officers who chased Gray, 25, after he fled unprovoked in a high-crime area. Gray was arrested and bundled into the transport van while shackled, but was not seatbelted in place as required by department policy.
Gray’s death sparked arson and protests in the city.
Nero faces misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. If convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to at least 15 years in prison.
During the week-long trial, Nero’s lawyers argued that Gray’s arrest was justified and that the officer had little to do with it. He never touched Gray except when he tried to help him find an asthma inhaler and helped lift him into the van once he was shackled, they said.
Nero’s partner, Officer Garrett Miller, testified that he, not Nero, had arrested Gray.
Nero is among six officers charged in Gray’s death. The charges against the others range from misconduct in office to second-degree murder.
The trial of the first officer involved in the Gray case, William Porter, ended in a hung jury in December.
(Writing by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Alan Crosby)