UPDATE on 5/10: Officer Nero did, indeed, waive a jury today. His bench trial is set to begin on Thursday, May 12.
UPDATE: The state is asking for a one-day delay in the trial because of a power outage at their offices over the weekend. Judge Williams will decide Tuesday, May 10, whether to grant it. If so, the trial will start Thursday, May 12, instead of the day before.
Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero goes on trial this week, charged with four misdemeanors related to the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015. Nero was one of two arresting officers who chased Gray, apprehended and handcuffed him. He was also present when Gray was loaded into the police wagon where he eventually sustained a fatal spinal injury.
While misdemeanors typically carry a year in jail or less, one of the charges Nero faces, second degree assault, carries up to ten years. The state concedes that Gray did not receive the spinal injury while being placed in the van; rather, the injury occurred while he was seated, unrestrained by a seatbelt, while being transported. The theory of assault against Nero is that he didn’t have a right to arrest and handcuff Gray. Handcuffing him apparently constitutes assault, in the eyes of the state.
The other charges against Nero are reckless endangerment—for failing to place a seatbelt on Gray—and two counts of misconduct while in office.
Last month, Judge Barry Williams ordered that co-defendant Officer Garrett Miller—the other arresting officer—will have to testify against Nero, if the state chooses to call him.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, May 10, with the trial to begin on May 11. There are reports that Nero may waive a jury. If so, Judge Williams will act as the sole juror and will determine if the prosecution has proven the charges. Assuming Nero waives a jury, opening statements and testimony could actually begin on Wednesday, May 11.
Cameras are not allowed in Maryland criminal courts. Documents related to Nero’s case and the other five officers can be found on the Documents page as well as the Baltmore Cops page under Cases of Interest.