Officer Edward Nero, one of six Baltimore police officers charged with crimes related to the death of Freddie Gray, has been found innocent of all charges. Nero, 30, chose to have his case decided by a judge rather than a jury of his peers, and was acquitted of second degree assault, misconduct, and reckless endangerment, NBC 4 in Washington reported.
NBC 4 further reported that protesters gathered outside of the courthouse where Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams ruled that Nero is innocent of the charges against him. In a public written statement about the judge's decision, Baltimore's mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stated that "police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state, country." She also addressed the possibility of public backlash, saying, "We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the process to come to a conclusion. In the case of any disturbance in the city, we are prepared to respond."
The statement added that Nero will still face an internal review by the police department.
Judge Williams' decision comes just over a year after Freddie Gray died at age 25 in police custody after being arrested for alleged possession of a switchblade. Gray's autopsy revealed that he had sustained a "high energy blow" while being transported by the police. The aftermath of his death was a major focal point for Black Lives Matter protests, putting Baltimore center-stage in the national conversation about racism and police brutality.
Citizens are now expressing their anger and frustration in the wake of Nero's acquittal on Twitter: