The defense rested Friday in the trial of a Baltimore police officer charged with murder in the death of a black prisoner whose neck was broken in a transport van — a case in which prosecutors charged six officers but have yet to win a conviction.
As testimony concluded on the trial’s seventh day, Officer Caesar Goodson declined to testify in his own defense. Goodson, who drove the van, is one of six officers charged in Freddie Gray’s arrest, facing the most serious charge of second-degree “depraved heart” murder. He was the only officer who didn’t make a statement to investigators. Goodson is black.
Judge Barry Williams, who is presiding over the bench trial, set closing arguments for Monday morning.
The defense called Officer Edward Nero to testify Friday. He was one of the six officers charged, and Williams acquitted him last month of all charges during the second trial in the case. Officer William Porter’s trial ended in a mistrial in December when the jury deadlocked, and prosecutors plan to retry him in September.
Nero testified that Gray was not cooperating with arresting officers on April 12, 2015.
“He was being very passive aggressive with them,” Nero said, adding that Gray did not want to go into the police van.
Nero also testified that once Gray was in the van, he started to bang, yell and shake the vehicle. Gray’s demeanor when arrested has been cited as a reason why officers may have decided not to seat belt him into the van, and instead placed him on the floor in handcuffs and shackles.
Prosecutors contend Goodson gave Gray a “rough ride,” causing the injuries he died from a week later. Prosecutors also are alleging negligence for officers not using a seat belt on Gray.
Michael Schatzow, the city’s chief deputy state’s attorney, asked Nero during cross examination if Gray went limp like dead weight when he was being put in the van. Nero responded, “yes.”
On Thursday, tensions between police and prosecutors surfaced when a prosecutor said he tried to have the lead detective removed from the case last year because he believed she was “sabotaging the investigation” by holding back information.
Goodson, 46, faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the murder charge. He also is charged with manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges.
Gray’s death sparked days of civil unrest in Baltimore last year.