Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Shatsow argued that Freddie Gray was the victim of a “rough ride” during opening statements in the trial of Baltimore Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. on Thursday (June 9). Goodson, accused of second-degree depraved heart murder, faces the most serious charge in Gray’s death that can lead to a maximum sentence of 30 years.
“We get a lot of complaints from the Western District for rough rides. It’s still unclear why they were making so many stops. When you lock somebody up, you take them from one point to central booking,” said Baltimore City’s NAACP President Tessa Hill-Alston. Baltimore’s police department has been sued in the past for rough rides, issuing millions to detainees who suffered injuries during the unsanctioned practice.
Defense attorney Andrew Graham denied the allegation, stating that there will be no evidence that Goodson, responsible for transporting Gray following his arrest, drove improperly. He also alleged that Gray might have unintentionally injured himself in a “freakish accident.”
In a 90-minute hearing before the trial, Judge Barry G. Williams denied the defense’s motion to dismiss the case in light of the prosecution’s failure to submit a May 2015 interview with witness Donta Allen, who shared the final leg of the van ride with Gray. The prosecution, who argued that Allen wasn’t a credible witness, must submit any evidence they may have withheld from pending trials by Monday (June 13) per Judge Williams’ instructions.
While the defense claims that Gray was a combative detainee, the prosecution continues to argue that Goodson had the “ultimate responsibility” for Gray’s safety.