A third trial for a Baltimore police officer for their role in the death of Freddie Gray still hasn't returned a conviction, with Officer Caesar Goodson being acquitted of all charges on Thursday.
Prosecutors had charged that Goodson, who drove the van in which Gray suffered his fatal spinal cord injury, purposefully gave Gray a "rough ride," ultimately leading to his death.
He faced the most serious charges of the six officers indicted in Gray's death—second-degree depraved-heart murder—as well as charges of three counts of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office.
As Common Dreams previously reported,
Gray, who was black, was arrested after a foot chase in West Baltimore on April 12. He was bundled into a transport van while in handcuffs and shackles, and was not secured with a seatbelt. Gray reportedly asked for medical attention twice during a ride between the site where he was taken into custody and a police booking center.
He died a week later from a spinal injury. His death, ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, quickly became one more symbol of police violence against black people in the United States and sparked angry protests in Baltimore.
Not putting a seatbelt on Gray "is not what a reasonable officer would do," prosecutor Janice Bledsoe said in closing arguments. She added that "repeatedly failing to get medical care" goes to the "depraved heart" murder charge.
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ABC News reports:
During the trial the defense argued that the neck and spinal cord injury occurred simultaneously in a “catastrophic” moment before arriving at the police station. The prosecution argued that the neck injury resulted from the alleged “rough ride” and progressively worsened through the remaining stops, and that the officers neglected to get Gray medical care, which led to his death.
But Judge Barry G. Williams rejected the prosecution's claims, the New York Times reports. "The court finds there is insufficient evidence that the defendant gave or intended to give Mr. Gray a rough ride," Williams said.
Williams added that the court failed to see "evidence presented at this trial that the defendant intended for any crime to happen."
Local news WJZ reports that protesters outside the courthouse chanted "Murderer" after the verdict was read.
Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty of all charges in May for his role in Gray's death, and Officer William G. Porter's trail in December 2015 ended with a hung jury. The next trial for one of the officers implicated in the killings begins in July.