Cop Charged With Murdering Freddie Gray Wins Acquittal
BALTIMORE (CN) — Setting the stage for a fresh bout of riots in Baltimore, the police officer charged with Freddie Gray’s murder won acquittal Thursday on all counts.
Of the six officers charged over Gray’s death last year, Caesar Goodson Jr., 46, had faced the most serious charges.
Judge Barry Williams, the sole adjudicator of the officer’s bench trial in Circuit Court, found Goodson not guilty today on all counts: second-degree depraved heart murder, manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office..
Goodson had been driving the police van that delivered 25-year-old Gray unresponsive to the police station on April 12, 2015. Gray died one week later from a spinal cord injury he sustained during the trip.
The case, which has been viewed as must-win for prosecutors, hinged on the theory that Goodson gave Gray a “rough ride” as payback for Gray resisting arrest,
Williams proved unconvinced by the evidence, which included CCTV footage of Goodson rolling through a stop sign and taking a wide right turn.
A prosecution witness testified to the rough-ride theory, but admitted under cross-examination that he did not see any evidence of the erratic driving.
Hundreds rioted in Baltimore on the day of Gray’s funeral, protesting a culture of police arrogance and excessive force, especially with regard to black arrestees like Gray.
The epicenter of the unrest was focused in the area where Gray was arrested after running from police unprovoked.
Police allege Gray was in possession of an illegal spring loaded knife when he was placed under arrest.
The state had argued Goodson was responsible for the safety and well being of Gray, who was placed on his stomach on floor of the van after he had been handcuffed and shackled.
Goodson’s defense included testimony that Gray, who was not secured with a seatbelt, was heard kicking and banging inside the van after resisting arrest.
Gray made requests for medical attention during two of the six stops between his arrest and the final stop at the Western District Police Station where he was found unresponsive and was not breathing.
Although there was conflicting expert witness testimony regarding the timing of the injury, Goodson’s defense team argued Gray caused his own injuries by falling inside the transport van. Goodson also lacked the training to recognize that Gray was hurt, they said.
Goodson, who is also black, is the second officer to be found not guilty on charges related to the case.
Williams acquitted Officer Edward Nero of misdemeanor charges last month. In December, the manslaughter trial of Officer William Porter ended in a hung jury. Porter faces retrial in September.
The trial in the majority black city of 620,000 lasted eight days and featured 21 prosecution and eight defense witnesses.
Four of the witnesses were medical experts, including assistant medical examiner Carol Allen, who ruled Gray’s death a homicide in her autopsy report.
Allen presented several theories as to the timing of the injury, which was critical for the prosecution to determine in order to prove Goodson should have called a medic or taken Gray to a hospital.
The doctor testified the injury occurred between the second and fourth stops. She also told the court Gray’s injury would have been instantaneous and catastrophic and left him unable to move and breath.
Two of Goodson’s fellow officers, including Porter and Nero testified Gray responded to officers’ questions and was able to hold himself up as he kneeled at the van’s bench at the fifth stop.
Goodson’s trial highlighted the division between police the State’s Attoney office of Marylin Mosby.