- Thomson Reuters
Caesar Goodson, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the in-custody death of 25-year-old Baltimore man Freddie Gray, was found not guilty of second-degree depraved-heart murder, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Goodson, 46, had been driving the police van transporting Gray, who died after suffering spinal injuries he is believed to have sustained in the van following his arrest for alleged possession of a switchblade knife in April of last year.
Judge Barry Williams cleared Goodson of all charges, which also included three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office.
“The court finds there is insufficient evidence that the defendant gave or intended to give Mr. Gray a ‘rough ride,'” Judge Williams said Thursday, according to The New York Times. He added there had not been “evidence presented at this trial that the defendant intended for any crime to happen.”
Prosecutors had alleged that Goodson gave Gray a “rough ride” intending to injure him and that he failed to ensure Gray was given medical care for those injuries.
But in closing arguments, Goodson’s attorney Matthew Fraling said Gray “created the high degree of risk” by changing his sitting position in the back of the van, The Sun reported.
The eight-day bench trial, which Goodson opted for rather than a jury trial, concluded Monday.
Goodson is the third officer to face trial in Gray’s death – William Porter’s ended in a mistrial, and Edward Nero’s resulted in an acquittal. Goodson faced the most serious charges of all six officers.
The death of Gray, a black man, triggered widespread protests throughout the city, adding fuel to the already heated national debate about racial tensions and police brutality.