Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who drove the van in which 25-year-old Freddie Gray sustained a broken neck, was acquitted by a Baltimore court on Thursday.
Of the six officers facing charges for Gray's death, Goodson's were most serious. Prosecutors argued that because he drove the van that transported Gray to central booking, he was most responsible for the "rough ride." But Judge Barry Williams concluded that prosecutors didn’t prove Goodson intentionally drove in a reckless manner. Goodson was acquitted on all counts, including a charge of second-degree depraved heart murder. He was also acquitted of three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
It was a bench trial, meaning there was no jury.
Goodson is the third of six officers to face trial. The first case, against Officer William Porter, resulted in a hung jury in December. The second, against Officer Edward Nero, resulted in a not guilty verdict in May. Lt. Brian Rice is the next officer to face trial. It is scheduled to begin July 5.
On April 25, Gray was arrested by the Baltimore Police Department for the alleged possession of an illegal switchblade. While being transported in a police van — handcuffed but not strapped in with a seatbelt — Gray fell into a coma and ended up with 80% of his spine severed from his neck, a broken vertebra and an injured voice box. He died seven days later. Baltimore erupted in protests for three days.