Baltimore’s mayor redoubled her efforts to add a civilian presence to police disciplinary boards Wednesday after a panel of three officers acquitted the cop who drove the van in which Freddie Gray received a fatal spine injury in 2015.
Mayor Catherine Pugh is seeking two add two civilians to each panel, which currently consist of three police officers, CBS Baltimore reported. Police unions have hindered Pugh’s previous attempts, pushing her to turn to state lawmakers for help. A police board cleared officer Caesar Goodson Jr. of any wrongdoing in Gray’s case Tuesday, putting to rest any possibility that he would be penalized for the man’s death.
“I do think it’s fair to have citizens sitting on the trial board, so we’ll be back in Annapolis asking for the two citizens on the trial board,” Pugh claimed.
Goodson had already been acquitted of all charges in criminal court in 2015. Before the disciplinary board, prosecutors alleged that Goodson, a black man, intentionally gave Gray, also black, a “rough ride” and neglected to secure the suspect with a seat belt. Gray received a spinal cord injury during the ride and died one week later in a city hospital, sparking weeks of protests.
Goodson’s Tuesday acquittal before the police board matches the acquittal issued by the civilian jury in 2016. Nevertheless, the NAACP argued that police boards without a civilian presence represent a gross miscarriage of justice.
“It is appalling, yet predictable given the composition of the trial board,” NAACP spokeswoman Monique Dixon said. “As long as the city lets law enforcement police themselves in lieu of meaningful civilian oversight, these proceedings will not result in accountability and will fail to strengthen community trust.”
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