One of Six Police Officers Implicated in Freddie Gray Case Acquitted of Charges
On Monday, May 23, Officer Edward M. Nero, one of six police officers implicated in the arrest of Freddie Gray, was acquitted of all charges. By the end of the trial, protesters had already gathered outside of the courthouse to express their discontent with the verdict. However, some protesters feel as though Nero’s trial is not as important as those of the other officers and are not as disappointed by the verdict.
Gray was arrested on April 12, 2015 for supposed possession of an illegal knife (The New York Times, “Freddie Gray in Baltimore: Another City, Another Death in the Public Eye,” 04.21.15). During the ride in the police van, Gray suffered a spinal injury and ultimately died a week later. His death has since become the subject of debates surrounding civil rights and police brutality.
Following Freddie Gray’s death in April of 2015, State Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn J. Moseby brought charges in May of 2015 against the six officers, with the most serious levied against Officer William G. Porter Goodson, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter, among other charges. Some immediately felt that the charges were apt, given that the coroner’s report ruled Gray’s death a homicide, while others felt the charges were brought too quickly and without sufficiently thorough consideration.
As one of the three officers present during Gray’s arrest, Nero’s charges included second-degree assault, which is punishable by up to 10 years, and two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, which is punishable by up to five years (The New York Times, “6 Officers Accused: Status Report on the Baltimore Cases,” 05.09.16).
Nero’s trial focused on the beginning of the Gray’s arrest rather than his death, unlike some of the other officers charged. Despite his acquittal, Nero’s role in the trial is not yet complete. He is set to be an important witness when Officer Goodson takes the stand.
Nero’s trial was not the first action taken by the City of Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray. It follows the declaration of a mistrial at the trial of Officer William H. Murphy Jr. in December of 2015. The trial is rescheduled for Sept. 6, 2016. Then, the City reached a $6.4 billion settlement with the Gray family (The New York Times, “Police Officer in Freddie Gray Case is Acquitted of All Charges,” 05.23.16).
The other five officers involved in the arrest of Gray are still awaiting trial.
Sexual Assault Charges Against Comedian Bill Cosby Will Go to Trial
[Trigger warning: sexual assault]
After a ruling this past Wednesday, Bill Cosby will stand trial for sexual assault accusations brought over 10 years ago by Andrea Constand. In 2005, when Constand initially accused Cosby, the case was dismissed by the prosecutor due to a lack of credible evidence.
Cosby’s alleged crimes have returned to popular attention due to a number of different factors, primarily that over 50 women have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault, all at different times in his career. Temporally, the accusations range from 1965 to 2008, and detail the ways in which Cosby allegedly gave drugs and alcohol to women before forcing himself upon them (The Atlantic, “The Sad Irony of Bill Cosby Finally Being Prosecuted,” 05.25.16). The release of a 2005 deposition from Cosby in which he admits to procuring drugs in order to have sex with women also played a role in the reopening of the case.
The Constand case was also addressed in a 2006 civil suit. Cosby has since sued Constand this past February, claiming that she violated the terms of the settlement by reopening the case. The case was reopened by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele after he took office in January 2016.
Steele established conditions for the trial to occur: “The prosecution had only to show that there was enough evidence to establish a case that a crime had been committed and that the defendant had been connected to it,” (The New York Times, “Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial Can Proceed, Judge Rules,” 05.24.16). Ultimately, Cosby faces three counts of aggravated assault in the Constand case (CNN, “Bill Cosby to Stand Trial for Assault Charges, Judge Rules,” 05.25.16).
Cosby waived his right to arraignment, meaning that he will ultimately plead not guilty when the case goes to trial. According to The New York Times, “The case now moves back up to the state’s trial court level, where another judge will be assigned. That judge will set a trial date,” (“Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial Can Proceed, Judge Rules,” 05.24.16).
So far, Constand’s accusations of Cosby are the only ones that have resulted in legal recourse for the comedian. Many of the women who have come forward are unable to file charges against Cosby due to the statute of limitations. If convicted, Cosby could face up to 10 years in prison for the charges brought by Constand.