After two trials with zero convictions, Baltimore's lead prosecutor Marilyn Mosby is facing an avalanche of criticism that she moved too quickly to file charges against six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old black man died seven days after sustaining critical injuries when he was taken into police custody.
As ABC News reports, Judge Barry Williams, in his verdict Monday after acquitting Officer Edward Nero who was standing trial for the death of Freddie Gray, said the state failed to prove any of the charges brought against the police officer.
Breaking News: Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero is not guilty on all charges related to the Freddie Gray case. pic.twitter.com/AdX9lgqcyc
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 23, 2016
The judge acquitted Officer Edward Nero of official misconduct, assault, and reckless endangerment charges when Gray was apprehended about a year ago outside a housing complex in West Baltimore. He died April 19, 2015, from a broken neck as he was shackled, handcuffed, and left unattended to in the back of a police van. The circumstances leading to his controversial death sparked protests clamoring for justice. On the day he was meant to be buried, riots and looting broke out, the National Guard was called in, and a curfew was enforced.
Baltimore 'Prepared To Respond' To Riots After #FreddieGray Officer Found Not Guilty https://t.co/sAYhKvU8xA pic.twitter.com/XyadECoUuK
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 23, 2016
Nero, who is white, is the second out of the six officers indicted to stand trial in Gray's death. The trial of the first officer led to a mistrial. A jury failed to reach a verdict in the manslaughter case of Officer William Porter in December. Prosecutors are looking to take him back to court in September.
Judge Barry Williams delivered his verdict Monday in a packed and tense courtroom. Nero's parents and his brother were in the front row while Gray's stepfather sat a few rows behind. State Attorney Marilyn Mosby was noticeably absent. She was present during the mistrial of Officer William Porter in December but failed to make an appearance at Nero's verdict date.
Mosby brought charges against all six officers less than a month after Gray died and 24 hours after getting the police department's investigation report. The city of Baltimore was still under curfew when Mosby filed charges against the officers. Mosby embraced the public scrutiny that came with the high-profile case. She granted TV interviews, posed for magazine photos, and even appeared at a Prince concert held in Gray's honor.
After the acquittal of Officer Edward Nero, his defense legal team had strong words for the Baltimore prosecutor.
"Officer Edward Nero, his wife and family are elated that this nightmare is finally over. The state's attorney for Baltimore rushed to charge him as well as the other five officers, completely disregarding the facts of the case and the applicable law. His hope is that the state's attorney will reevaluate the remaining five officers' cases and dismiss their charges."
Mosby's spokesman, Rochelle Ritchie, referring to a gag order on the case, did not comment.
A Florida attorney and former federal civil rights prosecutor, David Weinstein, said the verdict would definitely wake up prosecutors handling the case from their slumber.
He said, "[T]his speaks to the notion a lot of people had when this first happened, which is that it was a rush to judgment. The state's attorney was trying to balance what she had with the public outcry and call to action given the climate in Baltimore and across the U.S. concerning policing, and I think she was overreaching."
Do you think Marilyn Mosby rushed to prosecute the officers in the Freddie Gray case too quickly?
[Photo by Jose Luis Magana, File/AP Images]