The Baltimore police officer facing the most serious charges in connection with the death of Freddie Gray will not face criminal punishment. The decision led to renewed calls from the city’s police union to drop the cases against the other officers in the case, as well.
Judge Barry Williams acquitted Officer Caesar Goodson of all charges he faced, including second degree depraved heart murder. The case was left to Williams after Goodson opted for a bench trial instead of a jury.
The verdict is a blow to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in the high-stakes case. Goodson became the second officer to be acquitted, following Edward Nero’s trial last month. In three trials, Mosby’s office has yet to produce a conviction. Four more remain, but the calls for the state to rethink the case came swiftly.
In a statement, FOP Lodge 3 police union president Lt. Gene Ryan called on Mosby to drop “her malicious prosecution” of the remaining four officers, calling it a “travesty to the tax paying citizens of Baltimore.”
Doubts were also raised about whether the case could be resolved in court from the social justice-focused Open Society Institute, which said the trials will “do nothing to prevent racially unjust and injurious arrests,” and called on citizens to address the system of policing.
While some of the same undertones were present after Nero’s case, the stakes were much higher in Goodson’s trial. He faced the stiffest charges, and other officers have pointed to police protocol that says the van driver is ultimately responsible for the safety of the passengers.
Another reason for the bigger question marks came straight from the judge. Williams delivered a scathing rebuke of the prosecution’s case. He listed at least five scenarios outlining possible times during the van ride when Gray may have been injured, and said the state did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. He also says the state failed to define a rough ride, and essentially made a number of insinuations about the van ride that prosecutors failed to prove. Important to the future cases, he also found that police are not required to seatbelt detainees.
In an article on whether the case should continue from the Washington Post, former assistant state’s attorney Jeremy Eldridge said the case showed Mosby’s “youthful inexperience shining through.”
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