The Baltimore police van driver who transferred Freddie Gray was acquitted on all charges related to the death of the 25-year-old, whose broken neck while in transit set off the city’s worst riots in decades.
Six officers were charged in Gray’s death, but only Officer Caesar Goodson, 46, was accused of murder. Goodson allegedly left Gray unprotected by a seatbelt that prosecutors say would have kept him from slamming into the van’s metal walls.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams delivered his verdict after hearing five days of testimony in the non-jury trial. He also found Goodson not guilty of manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
Prosecutors claimed Goodson was criminally negligent when he failed to buckle Gray into the seatbelt or call for medical aid after Gray requested transfer to a hospital.
Goodson refused to talk to investigators or take the stand at trial, leaving the state with little evidence of intent to harm Gray. Last month, the same judge acquitted officer Edward Nero of misdemeanor charges, and in December he declared a mistrial after a jury failed to agree on manslaughter and other charges against officer William Porter.
State Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s continued efforts to hold police accountable for Gray’s death haven’t yet yielded a conviction, but Porter faces a retrial in September and three other officers have yet to be tried.
Gray was arrested Apr. 12, 2015 after running from an officer on bike patrol. A neighbor’s video showed him handcuffed behind his back and hoisted into Goodson’s van. Gray was unresponsive on arrival at the station house 45 minutes later.