Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson was acquitted of all charges June 23 in relation to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man who died while in police custody last April.
Goodson faced charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Gray’s death triggered riots across the city that garnered the world’s attention.
State’s Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby eventually brought a variety of charges against six officers who she said had been responsible for Gray’s death. Of the six officers charged, two have been acquitted and the trial for a third resulted in a mistrial. Three other officers still face charges.
Following Goodson’s acquittal, the AFRO spoke with eight Baltimore attorneys from both large and small law practices about the verdict.
Warren Brown, Warren A. Brown, P.A.
“The state didn’t have the evidence to support its allegations…The state promised more then they delivered.”
Oleg Fastovsky, Price Benowitz
“[Marilyn] Mosby indicted these officers with barely a thought to it. She was just asking for problems in the long run….What was done wrong was, it [the case] was rushed.”
- Wyndal Gordon, The Law Office of J. Wyndal Gordon, P.A.
“To be honest, this trial didn’t carry the same luster as the two previous trials, and the interest just wasn’t there community-wise. Obviously, there was some show of interest today when the verdict was rendered… Us in the legal community—we kind of knew it was a foregone conclusion that Goodson would be acquitted of the charges.
I’ve said many times before that Freddie Gray was injured in the field by those officers who initially handled him. And that if anything occurred in the back of that van, it was more or less an exacerbation of some preexisting condition that began with those officers in the field. It would be very difficult for the state to prove that Goodson intentionally or recklessly caused injury to Freddie Gray… You still have to commend Marilyn Mosby for having the courage and the guts to prosecute these matters, notwithstanding the substantial burden that she had to carry and the onerous task at hand.”
Thomas Maronick Jr., The Law Offices of Thomas Maronick Jr.
“I think Judge Williams felt that the prosecution’s theories were unsustainable. I think the judge had a problem because he felt that the prosecution put forth a theory as to what happened in the van and that he felt that the prosecution did not offer enough evidence to prove that their theory was correct.”
Joshua Ortega, Ortega Law
“They should have never filed charges in the first place, I don’t think the evidence was there. Based on the evidence that was in the newspapers and what the media reported, there was no evidence to show that these officers were guilty.”
David B. Shapiro, The Law Offices of David B. Shapiro
“Well, I wasn’t terribly surprised about the outcome of the Goodson trial. I think that the State failed to make the case. I think they just lack sufficient evidence for Judge Williams to find a conviction on any of the seven charges. It’s unfortunate because I think there could’ve been more information out there, but for whatever reason the evidence was not presented in trial and the judge was—I think—correct in his legal finding that the officer should not be found guilty on all seven charges.”
Steven D. Silverman, Silverman|Thompson|Slutkin|White
“Based on everything that I know about the case factually, in my understanding of the applicable law and the elements that need to be proven, I’m not surprised at all by today’s verdict by Judge Williams.
I think there’s a big difference between a freak accident and the intent to commit a homicide, and I don’t think the officers involved had any intent to cause harm to Freddie Gray. And if they did, there’s no evidence to demonstrate that.”
Sheryl Wood, Wood Law Firm
“I wasn’t surprised by the fact that the judge acquitted Officer Goodson of all of the charges. I think the State failed to present sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of Officer Goodson’s guilt… It isn’t an issue, in my view, of the judge being unfair or either of the criminal justice systems being unfair. It was more that there wasn’t enough evidence presented.
I do agree with the judge’s reasoning and rationale for his ruling. I believe that he looked at all of the evidence and really didn’t consider some of the theatrics that were going on during the trial.”