Baltimore City Circuit Court judge Barry G. Williams, who on Thursday acquitted the police van driver accused of giving a “rough ride” to Freddie Gray, sparked a lively Twitter debate with the reasons for his decision.
Williams, 54, who is African-American, said prosecutors failed to prove that Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 46, was guilty of second-degree depraved heart murder, three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment and misconduct in office, reports The Baltimore Sun.
Goodson is one of six officers charged in the case. The first trial of Officer William Porter ended in a hung jury and mistrial last December. The second of Edward Nero ended last month with an acquittal of all charges by Williams in a bench trial.
Now, the second acquittal raises questions about Williams’ background. Here is what you need to know:
1. The Baltimore Sun reports that “before he was the judge overseeing the Freddie Gray trials, Williams investigated and prosecuted police misconduct cases across the country for the federal government.”
2. As a federal investigator, The Sun reports, “In Missouri, [Williams] prosecuted three officers charged with beating a high school student. In Florida, he won a conviction against an officer who pistol-whipped a teen fleeing a drug bust. He was dispatched to the Virgin Islands to prosecute — and convict — an officer there for violating the civil rights of a dozen people over a four-year period.”
3. Williams was named the head of the Baltimore City Circuit Court’s criminal division in 2011, and has served on the bench since 2005.
4. CNN reports that Williams studied at the University of Virginia and obtained his law degree at the University of Maryland.
5. He was born in Neptune, New Jersey on April 4, 1962, according to his Baltimore City Court bio.
The Sun reports that the next trial of Lt. Brian Rice, who is charged with manslaughter, is scheduled to begin July 7. The other officers’ trial dates are: Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (Sept. 6), and Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13).