Baltimore Police Van Driver Caesar Goodson Not Guilty on All 21 Charges in Freddie Gray Case

Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was found not guilty Tuesday of all 21 administrative charges against him in the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

The verdict absolves Goodson once and for all in the case, and allows him to continue his career on the city police force.

Goodson, 48, the driver of the police van in which Gray was found with severe spinal cord injuries in April 2015, was charged with neglecting his duty by failing to ensure Gray’s safety by securing him in a seat belt or calling a medic when he requested one. He was also charged with making false statements to investigators.

Goodson faced possible termination if any of the charges against him had been sustained.

A trial board of three police officers — two from Baltimore and one from Prince George’s County — was unanimous in clearing him of all charges. He was acquitted in a separate criminal trial of charges including second-degree depraved-heart murder.

“This is a vindication of this officer,” said Sean Malone, one of Goodson’s attorneys. “This is a tragic accident that happened, and we’re sorry for the loss of Mr. Gray. But we’re glad that our client is not going to be the face of this incident.”

The decision of the panel is final. It cannot be challenged by the city or the police department.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the department “will stay the course” with the forthcoming trial boards for two other officers charged administratively in the case.

“Freddie Gray died in police custody. My thoughts and prayers remain with the Gray family,” Davis said in a statement. “We will continue to make improvements within our organization to meet the expectations of constitutional policing demanded by our community.”

The administrative trial of Lt. Brian Rice is scheduled to start Monday. The trial of Sgt. Alicia White is slated for Dec. 5.

Mayor Catherine Pugh said it would be inappropriate to comment on the panel’s decision when two more trials in the case are pending.

An attorney for the Gray family declined to comment. Attorney Hassan Murphy has said the family is fatigued by the many legal proceedings in the case and doesn’t wish to speak to the media about it anymore.

The city reached a $6.4 million civil settlement with Gray’s family.

Goodson also declined to comment. Malone said Goodson intends to “take care of his family” by continuing his 18-year career with the department until retirement.

“Officer Goodson is just ready to get on,” Malone said. “This is three years. He had a murder charge over his head, he’s had this over his head. He’s a quiet man, he’s a hard-working man, he’s just happy to resume his life.”

In delivering the verdict, Prince George’s County Police Maj. Rosa Guixens read out “not guilty” 21 times in a row and then abruptly closed the proceedings.

Goodson sat stoically until the last “not guilty” was read. Then he broke into a smile. He hugged his attorneys.

Outside the hearing room, Caesar Goodson Sr. said “the family is glad it’s over.”

“My son is a good son and a good officer,” he said. “We hope no other officer has to go through that.”

Officer Goodson has maintained his innocence. In statements to investigators aired during the administrative trial, he said he did not believe it was safe for him to climb into the van to secure Gray in a seat belt, and he did not believe Gray was injured or needed medical care when he requested it.

Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12, 2015, in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore, loaded into the van and taken on a ride that included several stops. He was eventually found unconscious and not breathing in the back of the van. He died a week later.

His death inspired protests against police brutality. On the day he was buried, the city erupted in riots, arson and looting.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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