A Baltimore judge acquitted the police officer facing the most serious charges in the death of Freddie Gray on Thursday, delivering a broad rebuke of a case that he said lacked evidence.
Via the Baltimore Sun:
Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 46, drove the transport van in which Gray sustained fatal injuries. He is the second officer cleared in the high-profile case. Four other officers could still face trial.
After an eight-day bench trial, Circuit Judge Barry Williams found Goodson not guilty on charges that included second-degree depraved-heart murder and three counts of manslaughter.
The acquittal cast doubt on the remaining criminal cases in which the other officers face similar but lesser charges. Legal observers said Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who drew widespread praise and also condemnation after charging the officers in May 2015, must now re-evaluate the remaining cases.
Prosecutors alleged Goodson deliberately threw the shackled but unrestrained Gray around the back of the van by giving him a “rough ride.” Williams said the state lacked evidence and was asking him to make assumptions.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Goodson will remain suspended by the Police Department and now faces an administrative review. In Maryland, the results of such cases are not revealed to the public. With Goodson’s acquittal, however, his pay will immediately be restored, and he may apply for more than a year of back pay. His annual salary in 2015 was $72,540.
The verdict drew mixed reaction. Outside the downtown courthouse, where dozens of protesters had gathered, many expressed frustration. Meanwhile, supporters of the officers called for the remaining charges in the case to be dropped.