Baltimore Police Officer Goodson Acquitted of All Charges
The Baltimore Sun reports that Officer Ceasar Goodson Jr., who faced the most serious charges of any of the six officers indicted in the death of Freddie Gray, has been acquitted of all charges.
Officer Caesar Goodson, Jr., 46, had faced the most serious charges of any of the six officers indicted in Gray’s arrest and death last April, including second-degree depraved heart murder. Goodson was also acquitted of three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
Freddie Gray was 25 years old when he suffered a fatal spinal injury while in the back of the police van driven by Goodson.
Goodson opted for a bench trial before Circuit Judge Barry Williams. Judge Williams said the timeline of Gray’s injuries remains unclear, and the state “failed to meet its burden” to present enough evidence to back its assertions. “As the trier of fact, the court can’t simply let things speak for themselves,” stated Judge Williams.
Judge Williams repeatedly cited the testimony of the prosecution’s medical witnesses that Gray’s injuries would have been progressive, and that he could have talked, moved his head and held himself up at various points along the transport.
Judge Williams stated;
“This injury manifested itself internally. That is one of the key issues here. If the doctors are not clear as to what would be happening at this point in time, how would the average person or officer without medical training know?”
Judge Williams repeatedly mentioned the higher burden to prove criminal negligence, compared to civil negligence.
The city has already paid out a $6.4 million civil settlement to Gray’s family.
To paraphrase, Freddie Gray died because his spine was injured and the injury progressed during the time he was on the van, severing it 80 percent by the time that the van arrived at the police station. However, because the break was progressive, the state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt who was responsible for getting Gray medical attention when the break was 10 percent, 20 percent, 50 percent, etc. Thus, no one will be held criminally accountable for Freddie’s death.
Judge Williams sees Goodson’s actions as civil negligence. Since the family has already been paid a settlement for Freddie’s death, Judge Williams is not going to find any of the 8 officers guilty of criminal negligence.
This is how Freddie’s family last saw him in 2015
This is how Kendrick Johnson’s family last saw him in 2013
This is how Kelly Thomas’ family last saw him in 2011
This is how Emmett Till’s family last saw him in 1955
In all cases, no one was held accountable for their deaths.