Freddie Gray Case: Van Driver Caesar Goodson Jr. Found Not Guilty of Murder and Other Charges
Freddie Gray died of spinal injuries sustained in a police van
After a trial spanning two weeks, Caesar Goodson, Jr., the Baltimore policeman who drove the transport van in which Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal cord injury, has been found not guilty of Gray’s murder and all other charges.
The trial came to its conclusion in Baltimore’s Circuit Court on Thursday morning. Goodson was also acquitted of depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and two counts of manslaughter by vehicle. He faced up to 30 years in prison for the charges.
The 46-year-old officer was one of six charged with offenses relating to the 2015 death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man, but was the only one charged with murder. Two of the other officers have already faced the court, with one trial granting acquittal and the other declared a mistrial after ending in a hung jury.
During Goodson’s trial, which was decided by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams rather than by a jury, arguments between the defense and prosecution often became heated, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“The intent is to bang him around,” prosecutor Michael Schatzow said in his closing argument. “The consequences to the prisoner were worse than what he anticipated.”
The defense maintained, however, that Gray’s death was an unintentional accident caused by Gray’s own decision to stand up in the van.
“Mr. Gray created a high degree of risk,” defense lawyer Matthew Fraling said. “[The prosecutors] have failed to cobble together any type of case that’s supported by reasonable inferences, let alone the evidence.”
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Gray was initially arrested in West Baltimore on April 12, 2015, after making eye contact with a police officer and then running away.
An autopsy report confirmed Gray sustained a fatal neck injury while handcuffed and standing in the back of the police van. He was unable to break his fall when the van stopped short, causing him to fall over and hit his head. He died from his injuries a week later.
Goodson was accused of Gray’s death because he failed to secure Gray inside the van and ignored Gray’s subsequent requests for medical help.
Gray’s arrest and death sparked protests and rioting in Baltimore.