BALTIMORE, June 26, 2016 – Baltimore Police Department officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van that Freddie Gray was placed in after being arrested, was acquitted for his involvement in the Gray’s death. This makes the second acquittal of the police officers involved in the Freddie Gray case. Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero was also acquitted of all charges last month.
The judge in the case ruled that the prosecution failed to meet “burden of proof” and that Nero did not play an integral part in the death of Freddie Gray. Nero was a first responder and did not place Gray in the situation that cost him his life.
This acquittal dealt a serious blow to the prosecution. Maryland State Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, the first black prosecutor rushed to announce the indictments of the officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death. Mosby comes from a long line of law enforcement family members. Criminal law experts believe Mosby’s rush to indict was an attempt to appease the protesters and the Gray family.
Mosby’s failure to get a guilty verdict on any of the police officers has drawn critics who say her political career could be over as she faces re-election next year and is expected to face off against several strong contenders.
Goodson was charged with murder and six other serious crimes. His acquittal leaves the state without any convictions after three trials in the nation’s closely watched police misconduct case. Judge Barry Williams presided over the trial and did not exactly explain when he believed Mr. Gray actually got hurt.
The response to the verdict was surprisingly quiet and without significant protesting.
This acquittal dealt a serious blow to the prosecution. Many Baltimore police officers questioned the speediness of State Attorney Mosby to charge the officers involved in the police brutality case. During the trial, prosecutors attempted to blame the death of Freddie Gray on Goodson, saying he did not properly restrain Gray and had multiple chances to render aid to him. They also alleged that Goodson caused the injuries by driving the van recklessly.
The prosecutors failed to prove that Goodson acted intentionally.
Lt. Brian Rice, the next to face Judge Williams, is charged with manslaughter. Rice was the first to make eye contact with Gray and began the foot chase in an attempt to catch him. Rice faces a charge of manslaughter for failing to properly restrain Gray in the police van.
Under new laws issued by the Court of Appeals, police officers charged in this case can be called to testify under immunity against their co-defendants. Mosby and her team still failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Goodson was guilty of the charges he faced or that Goodson was responsible for causing Gray’s injuries resulting in his death.
Mosby’s aggressive action was seen as too aggressive by Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who said, “She acted politically. She acted too quickly, and the public ought to make her pay a price for seeking to distort justice.”
Her attempt to indict those responsible appears to have been futile as she has failed to secure a single conviction. Mosby’s “rough ride” theory was debunked by her own police expert witness.
A “rough ride” is a police tactic used to teach someone a lesson; the person is placed in a police wagon without a seat belt, and the driver is so reckless that the person is thrown around. What are the real solutions to Baltimore’s violence and rioting?
While the city of Baltimore and the family of Freddie Gray deserve justice, it’s become clear that the officers responsible are not the ones facing serious charges. Community leaders have called the failure to convict a single officer a failure of the judicial system.
Officer Goodson still faces an administrative review by the Baltimore Police Department and is expected to be placed on paid administrative leave. Williams will preside over the rest of the cases. including the retrial of Officer William Porter, who faced a hung jury.