What Will Happen To Caesar Goodson, The Freddie Gray Van Driver Who Is Facing The Most Serious Charge?
On Monday, the trial for Caesar R. Goodson Jr.'s role in Freddie Gray's death was postponed to decide whether another officer can testify against him. The case is arguably the most crucial in the series of trials, since Goodson drove the police van which transported Gray from the site of his arrest to the Western District police station, where he arrived critically injured and unresponsive. Gray was reportedly handcuffed and shackled, but left unrestrained in the rear of the van for a ride that allegedly lasted 45 minutes and stopped at six locations. Goodson faces a charge of second-degree depraved-heart murder, as well as several others, though what will happen to the officer is highly dependent on the prosecution.
In order for a conviction of second-degree depraved-heart murder to occur, prosecutors must prove that Goodson deliberately and in callous negligence allowed Gray to die of a fatal neck injury. Baltimore Chief Prosecutor and State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby believes that accountability sits in Goodson's lap, since Gray was not buckled into a seat belt and Goodson drove the van — which technically placed Gray in Goodson's custody.
The fact that, reportedly, an ambulance was not immediately called when Gray first asked for medical attention compounded the charges placed on Goodson, which also include involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle (gross and criminal negligence), misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment.
Goodson and his legal team have not spoken out, and he is the only officer who did not give a statement to investigators regarding the events that occurred in April. However, during William G. Porter's trial last year, prosecution based much of their case on the claim that Gray told Porter at the fourth of six stops that he could not breathe, with the prosecution claiming that neither Goodson nor Porter acted in the interest of his safety. Police witnesses from the Western District station explained during Porter's trial that drivers are responsible for seat-belting arrestees, though some officers were reportedly unaware of the rule and not properly trained to do so.
ABC reported Monday that the jury selection for Goodson's trial was postponed specifically because an appeals court is deciding whether Porter should be compelled to testify against Goodson.
If convicted, what could happen to Goodson? For starters, charges of second-degree depraved-heart carry a possible 30-year prison sentence. His other five charges could add up to an additional 33 years. If he's convicted of even one of the charges, the least amount of time he could spend in prison would be three years, for the charge of manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence). If convicted on all six charges, he could be looking at more than 60 years.