Baltimore officer Caesar Goodson, 46, was acquitted Thursday of second-degree murder and all other charges related to the death of Freddie Gray. The verdict came after five days of testimony in a non-jury trial.
Judge Barry Williams said the state failed to prove that Goodson gave Gray a “rough ride” when the 25-year-old was arrested and placed in the back of a police van on April 12, 2015, the Associated Press reported. Goodson left Gray unbuckled and then drove across Baltimore, making six stops along the way. Gray was unresponsive 45 minutes later when the van arrived at the station.
He died a week later from injuries sustained during the ride, according to Baltimore’s medical examiner, an announcement which set off a string of citywide protests.
In closing arguments, state prosecutors accused Goodson of criminal negligence. “Officer Goodson never calls a medic, he never takes Freddie Gray to the hospital,” Deputy State’s Attorney Jan Bledsoe said. “He has breached his duty, and because of that breach Freddie Gray’s life was shortened.”
But the judge’s ruling stated the prosecution failed to show that Goodson knew Gray would be injured by being left unrestrained or that the officer was aware of his injuries during the ride. Prosecutors said Goodson checked on Gray during the third and fourth stops, so should have realized that Gray required medical care. During the trial, medical expert witnesses disagreed on whether Goodson had the training to sense Gray’s distress.
“If the doctors weren’t clear, how would a person without medical training know?” Williams said.
Of the six officers charged in the Gray case, Goodson faced the most serious charges: second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. The murder charge carried a penalty of up to 30 years in jail.
The same judge acquitted Officer Edward Nero of misdemeanor charges last month, and the jury hearings for Officer William Porter ended with a mistrial in December. A retrial for Porter is scheduled for September. The final three officers await trial. Here is a timeline of the charges in the Freddie Gray case.