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Baltimore ‘Prepared To Respond’ To Riots After Freddie Gray Officer Found Not Guilty

Reuters/Jim Bourg

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Casey Harper Contributor

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake put potential protesters and rioters on notice after one of the officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray was found not guilty.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams found Officer Edward Nero, 30, not guilty of all charges Monday. The officer elected to have a bench trial, which means he waved his right to a jury trial and allowed the judge to decide his fate. Protesters were already gathering before the verdict was announced, leading many to worry there would be a repeat of the April, 2015, riots. (INSIDE THE RIOTS: Violence, Fire And Robbery As Crooks Attack Reporters) 

Rawlings-Blake gave potential rioters a thinly veiled warning, saying “In the case of any disturbance in the city, we are prepared to respond.”

“Today Judge Barry G. Williams found Officer Edward Nero not guilty of all criminal charges. This is our American system of justice and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state, and country. Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Officer Nero will face an administrative review by the Police Department. We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion. In the case of any disturbance in the city, we are prepared to respond. We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city.”

The statement is especially interesting since she took heat for saying she gave space to rioters “who wished to destroy” in the 2015 riots.

Baltimore’s police union said Nero is relieved that “for him, the nightmare is nearing an end.”

Black Lives Matter activist and failed mayoral candidate DeRay Mckesson said the decision is proof more work needs to be done.

 

 

New York Daily News senior justice reporter Shaun King issued a string of tweets after the judgement lambasting the decision.

 

Prosecutors hit Nero with misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and  two counts of misconduct in office, which could have landed him with up to 15 years in prison. The prosecution argued Nero was wrong in detaining Gray without a good reason and for not buckling him into the van.

Five other officers are involved in the death. Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. will be the next tried, set to begin June 6.

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