Verdict Expected in Baltimore Trial of One Officer in Freddie Gray Death

IMAGE: Edward Nero
Baltimore police officer Edward Nero arrives at the Baltimore courthouse for his trial this month.AP

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By The Associated Press

A judge is expected Monday to hand down his verdict in the case of a Baltimore police officer charged in the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray.

Officer Edward Nero, 30, faces assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges. Prosecutors say Nero unlawfully arrested Gray without probable cause and was negligent when he didn't buckle Gray into a seat belt.

Freddie Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after his neck was broken in the back of a Baltimore police transport van.NBC News

Nero opted for a bench trial, rather than a jury trial. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams is expected to announce his verdict Monday. The assault charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, and the other charges carry five-year maximums.

Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after his neck was broken in the back of a police transport van while he was handcuffed and shackled but left unrestrained by a seat belt. His death set off more than a week of protests followed by looting, rioting and arson that prompted a citywide curfew.

Nero's attorney argues that his client didn't arrest Gray and that it is the police van driver's responsibility to buckle in detainees. The defense argued that the officers who responded that day acted responsibly, and it called witnesses to bolster its argument that any reasonable officer in Nero's position would have made the same decisions.

The defense also sought to convince the judge that the department's order requiring that all inmates be strapped in is more a suggestion than a rule because officers are expected to act with discretion based on the circumstances.

Nero is the second officer to stand trial. Officer William Porter's manslaughter trial ended with a hung jury.