Officer Charged in Freddie Gray Death Acquitted

Associated Press

A judge has found a Baltimore Police van driver not guilty of all charges in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, whose broken neck in police custody set off Baltimore’s worst riots in decades.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams delivered his verdict Thursday after hearing five days of testimony in the non-jury trial.

Six officers were charged in Gray’s death, but Officer Caesar Goodson was the only one who faced a murder charge.

Gray was fatally injured after officers bound his hands and feet and Goodson left him unprotected by a seat belt that prosecutors say would have kept him from slamming into the van’s metal walls.

Goodson was charged with six counts, including assault, carrying a 10-year sentence; three counts of manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years; reckless endangerment, punishable by 5 years; and misconduct in office, the penalty for which is left up to the judge.

Gray’s April 2015 death sparked weeks of protests in Baltimore, as well as throughout the U.S. The unrest forced the city’s mayor to abandon her re-election campaign, and the Department of Justice opened an investigation into allegations of widespread police abuse.

Prosecutors have failed to get a conviction of any of the police officers connected with the case Officer Edward Nero was acquitted of charges against him in a bench trial last month. Officer William Porter’s case ended in a mistrial in December. A retrial is scheduled to begin in September. Three other officers in the case, Lt. Brian Rice, Ofc. Garret Miller and Sgt. Alicia White have trials scheduled this summer and fall.

Photo: Officer Caesar Goodson, left, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray arrives at a courthouse before the verdict.