A police trial board unanimously cleared Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Tuesday of 21 administrative charges in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray that spurred riots and Black Lives Matter protests in the city, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Goodson, 48, who drove the police van in which Gray, 25, sustained severe spinal cord injuries in April 2015, is now free to return to the city’s police force after being suspended. The board’s decision about the officer — one of six involved in Gray’s police custody death — is final and cannot be challenged, the news outlet said.
The officer faced charges for failing to secure Gray in a seat belt and neglecting to call a medic when Gray requested help. He was also accused of giving false statements to investigators.
A separate criminal trial ended with Goodson acquitted of charges including second-degree depraved-heart murder and three counts of manslaughter last year, The Washington Post reported.
Gray was arrested in West Baltimore and loaded into a police van on April 12, 2015. He was found unconscious in the rear of the vehicle before he died a week later.
State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby pursued criminal charges against the six police officers in Gray’s death. Aside from Goodson, Lt. Brian Rice and Edward Nero were acquitted in trials. Mosby then dropped charges against Sgt. Alicia White, William Porter and Garrett Miller.
Tuesday’s outcome was “disappointing,” Mosby said, but reminded residents to “not forget the significant progress” that Baltimore “has made toward criminal justice reform and police accountability” after Gray’s tragic death. Others echoed Mosby’s sentiments.
“As long as the city lets law enforcement police themselves in lieu of meaningful civilian oversight, these proceedings will not result in accountability and will fail to strengthen community trust,” said Monique Dixon, deputy director of policy at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, according to The Sun.
She added: “These hearings are hollow unless they are fundamentally altered to incorporate resident input, transparency and accountability.”
The NAACP LDF wants to change Maryland and Baltimore laws to strengthen civilian oversight in police misconduct trials. Changes in police protocols, body cameras and consent decrees with the U.S. Department of Justice are on Mosby’s mind, Dixon said.
Administrative trials for Rice and White are slated for Monday and December 5, respectively.
SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun