A judge has found a Baltimore Police van driver not guilty of all charges in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, whose broken neck in police custody set off Baltimore’s worst riots in decades.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams delivered his verdict Thursday after hearing five days of testimony in the non-jury trial. Six officers were charged in Gray’s death, but Officer Caesar Goodson was the only one who faced a murder charge. Gray was fatally injured after officers bound his hands and feet and Goodson left him unprotected by a seat belt that prosecutors say would have kept him from slamming into the van’s metal walls.
Goodson was charged with six counts, including assault, carrying a 10-year sentence; three counts of manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years; reckless endangerment, punishable by 5 years; and misconduct in office, the penalty for which is left up to the judge.
Gray’s April 2015 death sparked weeks of protests in Baltimore, as well as throughout the U.S. The unrest forced the city’s mayor to abandon her re-election campaign, and the Department of Justice opened an investigation into allegations of widespread police abuse.
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