The prosecutor and defense played the blame game at the first disciplinary hearing of an officer involved in Freddie Gray’s death. Where is the accountability?
In 2015, Gray died a week after suffering a neck and spinal cord injury in the back of a Baltimore Police Department van. The driver, Officer Caesar Goodson, failed secure the handcuffed and shackled suspect in a seatbelt and ignored Gray’s request for medical attention. Some have accused the officers of giving Gray “a rough ride,” a way to punish suspects while in custody while avoiding accountability for injuries.
According to ABC News, attorneys for the police department and Goodson blamed each other Monday at the opening of the hearing, which could result in the officer’s termination.
The department’s lawyer, Neil Duke, told the panel of three officers—two from the Baltimore Police Department and a chairman from an outside police department—that Goodson was responsible for fastening Gray’s seatbelt after the arrest. He also said Goodson should have checked on Gray on at least one of the six stops before reaching the police station.
Goodson’s attorney, Sean Malone, told the board that the department failed to properly notify officers that a new rule required them to secure suspects in a seatbelt. Furthermore, Malone added, the van was ill-equipped, including a broken camera that could have enabled Goodson to view Gray.
A riot consumed Baltimore following Gray’s death. Prosecutors criminally charged Goodson and five other officers who had contact with Gray. After Goodson and two others were acquitted, the prosecutor dropped criminal charges against the other three.
So far, none of the officers have been fired. Two of them accepted minor disciplinary action.