Verdict Expected in Freddie Gray Officer Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — A judge will deliver a verdict Monday morning against Baltimore police officer Edward Nero in his role in the events leading up to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

Nero, 30, has pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor charges stemming from his actions during the initial stop and arrest of Gray, who suffered a catastrophic spinal injury while in police custody. Gray died one week later and his death sparked days of violent protests in Baltimore. Because Nero opted for a bench trial, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams will be deciding his fate rather than a jury.

Prosecutors argued that Nero had no regard for Gray’s safety and was reckless by ignoring policing rules when he failed to place a seat belt on Gray, who was placed on his stomach in shackles in the back of a police transport vehicle. Congressman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said he would like to see seat belts in every police van moving forward.

Williams grilled prosecutors during closing arguments last Thursday, questioning whether a crime was in fact committed by Nero.

“So, every time there’s an arrest without probable justification — it is a crime?” Williams asked.

“We believe that the search and arrest without justification are assault, your honor,” Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe responded. “There’s no question about that.”

Legal experts say the tone of Williams' pointed questions during closing arguments suggest an uphill battle for prosecutors to win their case against Nero.

The verdict comes more than a year after Gray’s death last April. His death became a symbol of the black community’s distrust of police, triggering days of rioting and angry backlash from community members.

Defense attorney Marc Zayon said that his client's actions were completely legal and protected by the law, and that the state’s case against Nero is “nonsensical.”

“I can’t believe I even have to argue this,” he said. “The detention is okay, the cuffing is okay, the moving is okay,” he said. “Being detained is a horrible thing, being cuffed is a horrible thing…but the law allows it.”

Public officials, including Cummings, are calling for peace and respect for the rule of law once the verdict is delivered.

“Whatever may be Judge Barry Williams' decision with respect to Officer Nero’s role in the death of Freddie Gray, that verdict will have as much legitimacy as our society and our justice system can provide,” Cummings said last week. “We will respect the decision.”


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Check Also

Officials break ground on new park honoring the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing

Officials break ground on new park honoring the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombingSeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Officials broke ground in Boston Wednesday for a new park dedicated to Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Martin was 8 years old when he killed on April 15, 2013, as he watched the marathon from near the finish line with his family. His mother was gravely injured, and his sister, who was 7 at the time,
lost a leg.

Photos from Wednesday's ceremonial groundbreaking show children in hard hats using shovels to dig dirt. Martin's Park, located next to the Boston Children's Museum at the Smith Family Waterfront,
is expected to open in the fall of 2018, according to a press release from the office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

"This park will bring light & hope to that darkness, honoring his memory & allowing kids to be kids," Baker wrote on Twitter.

#MartinRichard lost his life to terror. This park will bring light & hope to that darkness, honoring his memory & allowing kids to be kids. pic.twitter.com/lYUTMyZNxV

— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) August 16, 2017

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wrote on Twitter that the park will remind its visitors of "hope, compassion & love."

"Martin's spirit will always live on in Boston & in Martin's Park," Walsh wrote.

This park reminds us of hope, compassion & love a young boy taught us all. Martin's spirit will always live on in Boston & in Martin's Park. pic.twitter.com/w6Plokx6D7

— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) August 16, 2017

Both Baker and Walsh spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, as well as Martin's family.

Martin's sister, Jane Richard, said she knows that her brother is happy that the community is coming together.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.