BALTIMORE, June 23 (UPI) — Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson, one of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, was found not guilty on all charges Thursday for his role in the 2015 case that sparked protests nationwide.
Goodson, who drove the transport van following Gray’s arrest on April 12, 2015, was acquitted of the most serious charge against him shortly before 10 a.m. Minutes later, Judge Barry Williams handed down the remaining acquittals on six counts: manslaughter, second-degree assault, vehicular manslaughter (two counts), reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Goodson had pleaded not guilty on all charges.
In rendering his verdict, Williams said prosecutors did not back their theories with evidence and did not prove the case.
“The court cannot simply let things speak for themselves,” he said in his ruling.
Demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse reacted vocally, chanting “All night, all day, we’re going to fight for Freddie Gray,” and “Indict, convict, send these killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
Goodson’s acquittal throws into question the rest of the cases in Gray’s death. Lt. Brian Rice, charged with manslaughter, is expected to stand trial beginning July 7. Officer Garrett Miller’s trial will begin July 27, and Sgt. Alicia White’s trial will begin Oct. 13. All of the officers have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors, arguing Goodson’s erratic driving allowed Gray to be tossed around inside the van, called 22 witnesses during the trial. They said Goodson knew Gray was handcuffed and not buckled into a seat. Goodson did not testify.
Goodson faced the most serious charges among the officers charged in Gray’s death and was the third of six Baltimore police officers to stand trial. The trial of Officer William Porter ended in December with a hung jury.
Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty on all charges after his bench trial ended in May.