Judge rejects bid to drop charges against Baltimore cop in Freddie Gray case

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 16, 2016 11:29 AM

By Donna Owens

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - A Maryland judge on Thursday rejected a defense motion to dismiss murder and other charges against a Baltimore police officer accused in the 2015 death of black detainee Freddie Gray.

Defense lawyers for Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. will present their case after Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams turned back their bid to drop the charges. The prosecution rested in the high-profile trial on Wednesday.

Goodson, 46, was the driver of a police transport van in which Gray, 25, broke his neck in April 2015. His death a week later triggered rioting and protests and fueled the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

Defense attorney Andrew Graham told Williams, who is hearing the case in a bench trial, that prosecutors had not supplied evidence to prove that Goodson was guilty of any of the charges.

Goodson had not arrested Gray, did not know him and "had no motive to harm him," he said.

But prosecutor Michael Schatzow said that testimony by another officer, William Porter, had shown that Goodson was aware that Gray needed medical attention and had asked to be taken to a hospital.

Goodson is accused of second-degree depraved heart murder, manslaughter and other charges. He is the third officer to be tried of the six accused in Gray's death.

Schatzow has argued that Goodson caused Gray's death by giving him a "rough ride." But the officer's lawyers say Gray caused his own fatal injuries.

Gray was arrested for fleeing officers unprovoked. He was bundled into Goodson's van shackled and was not seat-belted, a violation of department protocol.

Porter's trial ended in a hung jury and he will be tried again in September. Williams acquitted a second officer, Edward Nero, in a bench trial.

(Writing by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Bernadette Baum)