The trial for Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who drove the van back in April where Freddie Gray sustained fatal spinal cord injuries, has been postponed due to a special order by the Court of Special Appeals. The stop came from a request of injunction from Officer William G. Porter to halt a city’s order from a judge to have him testify against his fellow Officer Goodson Jr., according to the Baltimore Sun. Unfortunately, this will also slow down the dates for the cases regarding the other police officers involved in the case.
Out of the six officers that were involved in the incident, Goodson faces the most serious charges. These charges include: counts for second-degree depraved heart murder, (30 years), involuntary manslaughter, (10 years), second-degree assault (10 years), manslaughter by vehicle—gross negligence (10 years), manslaughter by vehicle—criminal negligence (3 years), misconduct in office and reckless endangerment (5 years), according to The New York Times.
The state’s central witness for the case is Officer Porter, whose own trial on assault, manslaughter and other chargers ended in a deadlocked jury last month. He is currently facing a retrial in June, simultaneously fighting against a judge’s order to testify against Officer Goodson. That said, he hasn’t been able to take the stand until his appeal is decided; an appeals court blocked him from being able to testify because of the unknown decision.
Though experts say that even with Officer Porter’s testimony, it will be a had task for prove chargers like: manslaughter, assault and “second-degree depraved heart murder,” which means murder with a willful disregard to human life. Previously, Officer Porter testified that he thought Freddie was faking his injuries, and that he informed Goodson that Gray had requested to go to a hospital.
For Goodson’s trial, the prosecutors team recently gained a new player by recruiting a new witness, Stanford Franklin, a retired Baltimore police officer who is also the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. The group argues against strict drug laws. Franklin has spoken to a slew of news organizations including, MSNBC commenting on Freddie’s death. In an interview with TheRealNews.com, Franklin stated officers should have known that Gray was in danger of facing serious injuries.
“Every police officer knows that someone in the back of that van, if they’re not seat-belted in, they’re, because of the inertia from making turns, from making starts, from making stops, they’re going to be thrown all over the inside of that van,” he said.
It’s worth noting, however, that the Baltimore Police Department has had an extensive history where black men have been injured in the back of a van in custody of police. In 1997, Jeffrey Alston became a quadriplegic after a van ride; eventually he settled with the city for $6 million dollars in 2004. Following that, Dondi Johnson Sr. dies after his spine was fractured during a van ride. Later, his family won a $7.4 million jury award, which was minimized on appeal.
With Baltimore’s tumultuous relationship with vans and black men, let’s hope justice for Freddie Gray is served. What are your thoughts, should Officer Goodson Jr. be found guilty of all charges? Sound-off below.