The trial of Baltimore police officer Caesar Goodson Jr. ended in acquittal today (June 23) as circuit court judge Barry Williams found him not guilty of all charges related to Freddie Gray‘s death.
Goodson, who drove the police transport van containing Gray, faced tougher charges than any of the other five officers indicted by a grand jury last year. He was the only officer charged with second-degree depraved murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years. If he had been found guilty of murder and the other six charges against him—including three counts of manslaughter and one count each of misconduct, assault and reckless endangerment—he could have served up to 65 years in prison.
Gray died from spinal injuries sustained while in police custody in April 2015. According to The Baltimore Sun, prosecutors argued that Goodson’s reckless driving threw Gray—who was handcuffed, but unrestrained by a seatbelt—around the van’s steel cage and caused the injuries leading to his death. Prosecutors also argued that Goodson ignored five opportunities to administer medical aid, which was against department protocol.
Goodson’s defense attorneys disputed the timeline of Gray’s injuries, saying that there were fewer chances to provide aid. They also said Goodson deferred to other officers on not using a seatbelt and blamed Gray’s injuries on his standing in the van after being placed on his stomach.
Three other involved officers await trials: Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27) and Sgt. Alicia White (October 13). The first trial, of Officer William Porter, ended in mistrial in December; he will be retried on September 6. Judge Willams acquitted Officer Edward Nero in May.