Edward Nero was acquitted for his role in the events that led to Freddie Gray’s death on April 19, 2015 – a week after his neck was broken while he was being transported in the back of a police van. Gray was shackled and handcuffed in the van, but was not wearing a seatbelt.
In addition to second-degree intentional assault, Nero, who is white, faced charges of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. He waived his right to a jury trial in order to make his case directly before Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams.
Gray’s death prompted widespread protests in the city for more than a week for the killings of black men at the hands of white police officers.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement released after the verdict was announced that Nero will face an internal administrative review, stressing that “police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen.”
She said the city is “prepared to respond” to any disturbance in Baltimore.
“We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city,” she said.
Arson and widespread looting and rioting ravaged parts of Baltimore's predominantly black neighborhoods during last year's protests.
Five other officers -- three black and two white -- face charges in the death of the 25 year-old. Their trials are schedule to begin as early as next month.
A jury trial for Officer William Porter, who is black, concluded last year without a decision on the charges he faced. He is scheduled to be retried in September.