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Baltimore Officer Acquitted In Freddie Gray Case


This hour, a judge in Baltimore has handed down the first verdict in connection to the death of Freddie Gray. Police officer Edward Nero has been found not guilty of all charges related to Gray's death. An earlier trial of a different officer ended with a hung jury. NPR's Eyder Peralta joins us now from outside the courthouse in Baltimore. And remind us what it was that this officer did that got him charged in this case.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: So Officer Nero - Officer Edward Nero was not charged in the death of Freddie Gray. But he was charged basically with the arrest of him. If you saw that video that went viral when this all started, he's one of the police officers on a bike that stopped and arrested Freddie Gray. So he was facing a second-degree assault charge, two misconduct in office charges and a reckless endangerment charge. And he was acquitted of all of those.

The one that was really interesting, though, was the second-degree assault charge - because as far as the defense - as far as the prosecution was concerned, this had never been brought against a police officer. They were basically charging him for assault just for the arrest itself. And what the judge said is that the prosecution did not prove their case.

MONTAGNE: It didn't prove their case. Was there detail - for instance, as I gather he helped put him in the van. Did that mean anything?

PERALTA: That's right. I mean, he helped put him in the van. What the judge said is that the prosecution didn't prove what kind of a role he played. And also, the judge said that Officer Nero didn't - could have expected another officer to belt Freddie Gray in. Ultimately, not belting Freddie Gray in is what caused the spinal injury that killed him.

MONTAGNE: Right. And so he was acquitted of charges related to that. Are there protesters outside the courthouse where you are?

PERALTA: There's a few. There's probably about a dozen out here. And it was still emotional. I mean, this city is really still reeling with this trial. And, you know, once they got word of the verdict, they started chanting and basically Officer Nero, too, walked out and people ran after him, calling him killer cop and you should be ashamed.

MONTAGNE: Well, thank you very much for joining us.

PERALTA: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Eyder Peralta outside the courthouse in Baltimore, where police officer Edward Nero has been found not guilty of all charges relating to Freddie Gray's death. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Renee Montagne
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
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