The Baltimore Police van driver who transported Freddie Gray and was accused of giving him a “rough ride” that led to his fatal spinal injury was acquitted of all charges Thursday, including murder, manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., whohad waived his right to a jury trial and opted to have the case decided by a judge, was the third officer to be tried in Gray’s death. He faced the most serious charges of any of the six officers indicted in the case, including second-degree depraved heart murder, three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
“The court finds there is insufficient evidence that the defendant gave or intended to give Mr. Gray a rough ride,” said Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams in his ruling, adding there was no “evidence presented at this trial that the defendant intended for any crime to happen.”
Gray, 25, suffered a broken neck and other injuries while being transported to the police station. Officers had bound his hands and feet, and prosecutors said Goodson purposely failed to secure him with a seat belt that they argued would have kept him from slamming into the van’s metal walls.
“The state failed to prove the defendant knew or should have known that Mr. Gray needed medical care,” Judge Williams said. “Unlike in a shooting or a stabbing, or a car accident, this injury manifests itself internally. If the doctors weren’t clear, how would a person without medical training know”
The judge added, “The state had a duty to show the defendant corruptly failed in his duty, not just that he made a mistake.”
In the trials of the first two officers, Officer William Porter was tried by a jury, and a mistrial was declared after verdict could not be reached. He will be tried again in September. Officer Edward Nero opted for a bench trial, like Goodson, and was acquitted in May, also by Judge Williams. Of the six officers indicted, only Goodson did not provide a statement to investigators.