Judge Won't Dismiss Charges In Goodson Trial, Prosecution Criticized for Withholding Evidence
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — High drama in the courtroom as the trial for Officer Caesar Goodson began Thursday. Goodson is one of six officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. He faces the most serious charges, including second-degree murder.
Investigator Mike Hellgren has details on the first day in court.
Prosecutors accuse Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the van driver and only police officer charged with Freddie Gray's murder, of giving him a "rough ride."
They say surveillance camera footage from Fremont Avenue shows Goodson run a stop sign, turn and cross a double yellow line.
"The state's going to have to prove, presumably through bystanders who saw the wagon or video surveillance, that there was, in fact, a rough ride," said Warren Alperstein, lawyer and courtroom observer.
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Goodson's defense team painted him as a gentle officer who was simply following supervisor's orders as he drove Gray around West Baltimore.
They say he never had any indication Gray was injured, and that it was the norm not to secure detainees with a seat belt, particularly when they were combative, as they argued Gray was. They believe Gray purposely injured himself.
"They said, one, this was a rough ride; two, that the catastrophic injury occurred before stop four; and three, that Goodson should be held accountable for not seat belting Freddie Gray in," another lawyer and courtroom observer said.
RELATED: Freddie Gray: A Timeline From His Arrest To Today
The drama started in court before the trial began, with the judge scolding prosecutors for withholding evidence.
A second interview with Donta Allen, the second detainee in van with Gray, claims Gray was loudly banging around past the time prosecutors believe Gray's spine had been nearly severed.
It's not the first time prosecutors have withheld evidence, and the judge says he's concerned State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's team may have more to turn over, warning of sanctions if they don't.
"I hope when police officers have people in custody or try to apprehend them, that they would think before they go into action because that's what has caused all of this to happen to Freddie and to Baltimore," said Tessa Hill-Aston, Baltimore NAACP president.
One of the prosecution witnesses was Goodson's instructor back when he joined the force in 1999. He says he taught Goodson to always call for a medic, even if he thought a detainee was faking an injury.
Court resumes at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
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Goodson waived his right to a jury trial and instead will leave his fate up to Judge Williams.
He is facing charges of second-degree depraved heart murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct-in-office charges.
Officer Edward Nero, the first of the six officers charged in relation to Gray's death to get a verdict, also had a bench trial presided over by Judge Williams. He was found not guilty of all the charges he faced.
Officer William Porter's trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial in December. He will be retried in September.
Gray died April 19 of last year, a week after he suffered a critical spinal injury in Goodson's wagon.
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