On Monday, Baltimore police officer Edward Nero was found not guilty on all charges in the case of Freddie Gray’s death, CNN reports.
Nero was involved in the April 12, 2015 incident, during which Freddie Gray suffered severe injuries during his arrest and while in police custody. The officer faced charges of second-degree intentional assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, but received a full acquittal.
Judge Barry Williams found Nero not guilty on all counts because of his small part in the arrest of Gray, and the state’s inability to prove that Nero acted inappropriately by failing to put a seat belt on Gray when he was transported in a police van, CNN reports.
“The state’s theory has been one of recklessness and negligence,” The New York Times reports Williams said. “There has been no evidence that the defendant intended for a crime to occur.”
Williams received praise for his decision from both sides, including the Gray family attorney, who said, “You can’t convict people unless you know the evidence,” according to CNN.
The public reacted to the verdict on social media, and though there have been no reported cases of riots, similar to those which occurred in reaction to the incident last year, the city of Baltimore says it’s prepared for anything.
“In the case of any disturbance in the city, we are prepared to respond,” Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.
This outcome could affect the trials of the other five officers involved. Because the judge in this case ruled that Officer Nero did not play a significant enough part in the arrest to warrant being responsible for it, that leaves open the possibility that other officers who were more involved could be convicted. Officer Caesar Goodson, who is facing a charge of second-degree depraved-heart murder, is the next to stand trial, The New York Times reports.