Police driver acquitted in Freddie Gray case
BALTIMORE — The Latest on the murder trial of a Baltimore officer facing charges stemming from the death of a 25-year-old black man who was critically injured in police custody (all times local):
A judge has found a Baltimore Police van driver not guilty of all charges in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, whose broken neck in police custody set off Baltimore’s worst riots in decades.
Six officers were charged in Gray’s death, but only Officer Caesar Goodson was accused of murder. Gray was fatally injured after officers bound his hands and feet and Goodson left him unprotected by a seat belt that prosecutors say would have kept him from slamming into the van’s metal walls.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams delivered his verdict Thursday after hearing five days of testimony in the non-jury trial. He found Goodson not guilty of “depraved-heart” murder, manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment.
Protests and rioting after Gray’s death on April 19, 2015 set the city on fire, forcing Maryland to bring in the National Guard. The unrest forced the city’s mayor to abandon her re-election campaign, and the Department of Justice opened an investigation into allegations of widespread police abuse.
Judge Barry Williams has weighed six counts against Officer Caesar Goodson in the death of Freddie Gray.
Murder carries the toughest penalty — 30 years in prison. A conviction would require the judge to decide that Goodson did, “with malice aforethought, kill and murder” the arrestee in the back of his van.
Goodson also was charged with assault, carrying a 10-year sentence; three counts of manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years; reckless endangerment, punishable by 5 years; and misconduct in office, the penalty for which is left up to the judge.
A handful of demonstrators and many photographers and videographers are gathered outside a Baltimore courthouse to await a verdict in the trial of one of the six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of a young, black man.
A judge is expected to announce his decision Thursday on the charges Caesar Goodson faces, including murder. Goodson is charged in the death last year of Freddie Gray, who was a passenger in Goodson’s detainee transport van.
Officer William Porter’s case ended in a mistrial, while Officer Edward Nero was acquitted. Porter and three other officers have trials scheduled this summer and fall.
Nero arrived at the courthouse Thursday amid security from sheriff’s deputies, who went inside with him.
Demonstrators’ signs read, “Justice for Freddie Gray,” ‘’Jail Killer Police” and “Stop the War on Black America.”
A Baltimore judge is poised to deliver his verdict in the murder trial of an officer who drove the police van where a black arrestee’s neck was broken, triggering some of the worst riots the city has ever seen.
Caesar Goodson was charged with murder, manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
Twenty-five-year-old Freddie Gray died a week after suffering a spinal injury in Goodson’s wagon, where officers left him handcuffed and shackled but unrestrained by a seat belt. His death set off protests and violence, and prompted State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to bring charges against six officers.
The sweeping case ended the career of the police commissioner and aborted the political future of the mayor. Some say Mosby’s reputation also hinges on its outcome.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.