Officer Caesar Goodson, the Baltimore Police officer and van driver accused of giving a “rough ride” that killed Freddie Gray, was found not guilty by Judge Barry Williams on Thursday.
Goodson faced the most serious charges of the six Baltimore officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. He was found not guilty of 2nd degree depraved heart murder, and also acquitted of three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
Prosecutors argued Goodson had five chances to render aid to Gray after his neck was broken in the back of the van, which they said demonstrated a “depraved heart.” They also said Goodson was the direct cause of the injuries, driving the van in a reckless manner that threw the shackled black man around in the back of the van’s steel cage. As a certified field training officer, prosecutors said Goodson knew Police Department rules and broke them.
But Goodson’s defense argued that officers who checked on Gray didn’t know he was seriously injured, and that Goodson deferred to decisions of other officers not to put a seatbelt on Gray.
Williams, a former city prosecutor who also investigated police misconduct for the Justice Department, heard Goodson’s case instead of a jury.
Four other officers still face charges for their roles in Gray’s arrest and death. The next trial, of Lt. Brian Rice, who is charged with manslaughter, is scheduled to begin July 7.