Nero was charged with second-degree assault for detaining Gray without justification. He was also charged with reckless endangerment for failing to secure the handcuffed Gray with a seatbelt in the van.
Nero also faced two charges of misconduct in office. He is the second officer to be tried in connection with the death of Gray in custody, with the first ending in a mistrial.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams rejected the state’s case against Nero after a five-day bench trial, saying there were “no credible facts” to show that Nero was directly involved in Gray’s arrest.
Freddie Gray Jr., 25, was arrested on April 12, 2015 for allegedly carrying an illegal switchblade. Witnesses say police used unnecessary force and did not secure him inside the van. He went into a coma during the ride and died from spinal cord injuries on April 19.
Nero was one of six officers charged in the arrest and death of gray. He was one of two bike officers who initially made eye contact with Gray before his arrest.
Nero is a 30 year-old white man who started working at the Baltimore Police Department in 2012. Before that, he was a firefighter in New Jersey since 2002.
Baltimore is notorious for “rough rides,” a form of police brutality in which a handcuffed and unbuckled detainee is helplessly thrown around in the back of the van while it is being driven aggressively.
Nine days before Gray’s arrest, Baltimore Police Department rules were updated to clearly state that all detainees must be strapped in by seat belts or “other authorized restraining devices” for their own safety after arrest.