Trial draws to a close for Baltimore Police van driver in Freddie Gray-case


    Closing arguments began Monday morning for the trial of Caesar Goodson, who faces the most serious charges of the Baltimore officers involved with Freddie Gray’s arrest. Goodson was the driver of the van that transported Gray. (WBFF)

    BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Closing arguments began Monday morning for the trial of Caesar Goodson, who faces the most serious charges of the Baltimore officers involved with Freddie Gray's arrest.

    Goodson was the driver of the police van that transported Gray.

    Court began with a conference of judge and lawyers before the prosecution's Jan Bledsoe led the closing arguments. Bledsoe argued that Goodson ignored training and orders and should have taken Gray to a hospital or called a medic. Gray's life was cut short because Goodson breached his duty, the prosecution argued.

    "But it goes deeper than that," Bledsoe continued.

    Pointing out video of the van turning right off of Riggs Avenue onto N Fremont Avenue, Bledsoe said the van drove through a stop sign and crossed the center yellow line, stopping less than a half block after making the turn. According to Bledsoe, that stop was unreported. She told that court that Goodson didn't call dispatch and didn't get assistance.

    This is where we believe Gray's fatal injuries occurred, Bledsoe said, calling Goodson guilty of murdering Gray. Failure to seatbelt the occupants of the van is not something a "reasonable officer" would do, she concluded.

    Matthew Fraling began closing arguments for the defense by talking about a card game, saying the prosecution kept "reshuffling" cards. Fraling argued that the prosecution came in "on a proverbial high horse," talking about a rough ride, which the defense says was not corroborated by the witnesses.

    Fraling told the court that Goodson was never informed by Officer Porter, who checked on Gray, that the prisoner was in medical distress. While calling Gray's injuries "sudden and catastrophic" rather than progressive Fraling said there was no evidence of Goodson driving negligently.

    Mentioning the video of what the prosecution said was Goodson "blowing through" the stop sign, Fraling said it was "painfully obvious" that Goodson was not speeding. "This is not the Dukes of Hazzard," he said, arguing there was no evidence of abrupt starting, stopping, or gross negligence.

    "Goodson drove van safely, cautiously and slowly," he said.

    Fraling argued that Goodson should not be held accountable by what he called Gray's decision to move around in the van.

    As for seatbelting Gray, officer safety is paramount, Fraling said.

    A short recess preceded the rebuttal from the state, during which Michael Schatzow argued that Gray did not assault police and, therefore, officers had no reason avoid seatbelting the prisoner.

    Schatzow told the court that the order to seatbelt prisoners was put in Goodson's hands six months before Gray's arrest.

    Judge Barry Williams is presiding over the bench trial. During the rebuttal he asked, if Gray wasn't injured, would Goodson still have failed to perform his duty? "Yes," Schatzow replied.

    According to Schatzow, if Goodson had sent Gray to hospital, Gray would still be alive.

    Judge Williams will deliver a verdict on Thursday at 10 a.m.

    Officer Goodson faces charges of second-degree depraved heart murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. He 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.

    Nero was acquitted of all charges and 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.


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