Even in death, there is no real justice for Freddie Gray. Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr.—who was driving the van in which Gray suffered fatal spinal cord injuries in April 2015—was found not guilty Tuesday of all 21 administrative charges that were filed against him.
As the Baltimore Sun notes, this verdict not only absolves Goodson of any wrongdoing in Gray’s death but also allows him to keep his job with the Baltimore Police Department.
Goodson, 48, was charged with neglecting his duty by failing to ensure Gray’s safety, including by not securing a handcuffed and shackled Gray in a seat belt and not calling a medic for Gray after he requested one. He was also charged with making false statements to investigators. If he had been found guilty of even one of the charges against him, he would have faced possible termination from the department.
Goodson was previously acquitted on all criminal charges against him—including second-degree depraved-heart murder—at a separate trial last year. Three law-enforcement officials presided over his six-day administrative trial, and the decision to clear him of all charges was unanimous.
After the verdict was read, Sean Malone—one of Goodson’s attorneys—said: “This is a vindication of this officer. This is a tragic accident that happened, and we’re sorry for the loss of Mr. Gray, but we’re glad that our client is not going to be the face of this incident.”
The panel’s decision is considered final, and it cannot be challenged by the city or the Police Department.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement that the department “will stay the course” with the upcoming trial boards for two other officers who are also facing administrative charges related to Gray’s death.
“Freddie Gray died in police custody. My thoughts and prayers remain with the Gray family,” Davis said in his statement. “We will continue to make improvements within our organization to meet the expectations of constitutional policing demanded by our community.”
Lt. Brian Rice’s administrative trial begins Monday, and Sgt. Alicia White’s trial is set for Dec. 5. Their trials will not be presided over by the same panel that presided over Goodson’s.
The city of Baltimore previously agreed to a $6.4 million civil settlement with Gray’s family.