The Baltimore officer who was acquitted of murder in the death of Freddie Gray had his first hearing before a police disciplinary board Monday.
The police board will determine whether officer Caesar Goodson Jr. violated department policies when he was driving the van where Gray’s spine was severed in 2015, the Baltimore Sun reported. Goodson reportedly faces more than 20 charges, including lying about the circumstances of Gray’s arrest and neglecting to put Gray in a seat belt. He was acquitted of similar charges in court last year.
“The failure to seat-belt may have been a mistake or it may have been bad judgment,” Circuit Judge Barry Williams said in Goodson’s case. “But without showing more than has been presented to the court concerning the failure to seat-belt and the surrounding circumstances, the state has failed to meet its burden to show that the actions of the defendant rose above mere civil negligence.”
Goodson faced the most serious charges of the six officers involved in Gray’s death, and his 2016 acquittal signaled that none of the officers were likely to be convicted. The police board has less authority to punish Goodson than criminal court, however, and the officer will only be terminated if found guilty.
Goodson’s attorney, Sean Malone, said his legal team “are prepared to provide a vigorous defense,” of Goodson, who has been wrapped up in court battles for 30 months. Malone will argue the case to the two majors and a detective who make up the board. The prosecutors arrayed against Goodson will have a much easier time making charges stick this time around as well, as the disciplinary board only requires a preponderance of the evidence for a conviction.
Goodson’s trial is expected to finish by Friday, according to the Associated Press.
“We should accept the outcome of these proceedings however they go, because we have a process that is one that is rooted in fairness, transparency and impartiality,” City Solicitor Andrew Davis told the Sun.
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