Driver of police van during Freddie Gray arrest found not guilty on all counts
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the Baltimore Police van on the day of Freddie Gray's arrest has been found not guilty on all counts.
He was facing charges of second-degree depraved heart murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
The verdict was read by Judge Barry Williams on Thursday morning. A not-guilty verdict on the second-degree murder charges was announced first.
In announcing his verdict Judge Williams ruled there was no "rough ride," and repeatedly said there was no outward evidence of medical distress by Gray that Officer Goodson could recognize.
He also ruled that the failure to seatbelt Gray was not criminal.
Goodson smiled and hugged attorneys and officers when declared not guilty of all charges.
A handful of protesters were gathered outside of the courthouse before Goodson's arrival, awaiting the verdict and that number grew just prior to the announcement.
Organizers say they expect a far larger crowd at an evening protest at Penn & North.
Security around the courthouse and around the city have been a concern for some officials and members of the Maryland National Guard are on stand-by as a "last resort."
Goodson is the third of six officers charged in connection with Gray's arrest to go to trial, following Officer William Porter and Officer Edward Nero.
He was the second to choose a bench trial over a jury trial.
Nero also chose a bench trial and was acquitted of all charges. Porter is scheduled to be re-tried in September since his case ended with a hung jury in December.
Gray was arrested on April 12, 2015 after officers say he "fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence," placed unrestrained in a police van and transported to Western District.
When officers attempted to remove Gray from the wagon he was no longer breathing and was found to be in cardiac arrest by a responding medic.
He underwent surgery at Shock Trauma at the University of Maryland Medical Center and died on April 19, 2015.
Charging documents state that Gray was "arrested without force or incident," and note that Gray "suffered a medical emergency" during transport.
The state's medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.
Brian Rice is the next officer scheduled to go to trial, on July 5:
- State of Maryland v. Brian Rice: July 5, 2016 (charged with: involuntary manslaughter, assault/second degree, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment)
- State of Maryland v. Garrett Miller: July 27, 2016 (charged with: assault/second degree, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment)
- State of Maryland v William Porter: Sept. 6, 2016 (charged with: involuntary manslaughter, assault/second degree, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment)
- State of Maryland v. Alicia White: Oct. 13, 2016 (charged with: involuntary manslaughter, assault/second degree, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment)