Officer Caesar Goodson, the Baltimore police officer who drove the transport van Freddie Gray rode in after his arrest was found not guilty on Thursday of all charges. The verdict marks the third out of six in the case went to go to trial, with the prior two cases ending with an acquittal and a hung jury.
Officer Goodson faced charges of second-degree depraved heart murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment stemming from the spinal injury Gray suffered while in police custody and which eventually led to Gray’s death.
Prosecutors alleged that Gray sustained the injury because Goodson did not properly strap Gray into the police van and also gave him a “rough ride” on the way to the police station. Officer Goodson faced at least 68 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Judge Barry Williams read the verdict on Thursday morning as protesters gathered outside the courthouse. Baltimore police said they are ready for possible protests and the Maryland National Guard is on standby.
Six officers have been charged in the Gray case, with Goodson facing the most serious charges. Goodson was the third person to go to trial in the case, with the prior two cases ending with an acquittal and a hung jury.
Officer Goodson chose a bench trial over a jury trial, as did Officer Edward Nero who was eventually acquitted of four misdemeanor counts in May. Officer William Porter’s December trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial. Lt. Brian Rice’s trial is set to begin in July, followed later in the month by Officer Garrett Miller, Porter’s retrial in September and Sgt. Alicia White’s trial in October.