Perhaps Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby never saw it coming.
Caesar Goodson, one of the six Baltimore police officers tried in the death of Freddie Gray, was supposed to be convicted.
He was the high-profile, flagship case that Mosby touted as the dramatic example for justice that Gray’s family — and the entire Black community of Baltimore — could rally around.
But on Thursday, Mosby’s case — and her fiery desire to see Goodson convicted — was torpedoed by Judge Barry Williams who acquitted Goodson of all charges.
Goodson is now a free man — and the state’s case against him — led by Mosby — will be examined, dissected and perhaps ridiculed for months to come. Lawyers are already accusing Mosby of overcharging the officers.
Goodson was charged with second degree “depraved heart” murder, three different counts of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office.
The state’s case came down to this: Goodson failed to strap Gray into the van with a seat belt. He failed to offer Gray proper medical care, and, he intentionally took Gray on a “rough ride.”
Gray, 25, died last year of severe spinal and head injuries while riding in the back of a police van, so Mosby felt that Goodson was the most reckless of the six officers, and therefore, would certainly be convicted.
But Goodson outsmarted Mosby and her prosecutors. He asked for a bench trial instead of a jury trial because he knew his chances were better for an acquittal. Between 2005-2011, no judge in a bench trial has ever convicted an officer for murder or manslaughter in the line of duty, according to NBC News.
It was a brilliant legal strategy – and it worked.
Mosby, 36, is the youngest state prosecutor in a major American city, and she gained national prominence after her charging the officer’s last year.
“I heard your call for no justice, no peace,” Mosby said before cameras at a news conference on the steps of City Hall last year. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”
Mosby had good intentions. But now, after Goodson’s acquittal Thursday — which follows a hung jury in the case against Officer William Porter and the acquittal of Officer Edward Nero, both of whom were also charged in Gray’s death — the critics will certainly question whether Mosby rushed to judgment against the cops. Three other officers still face trial in the case.
“The state brought it up,” Judge Williams said in court Thursday. “The state told the world it was a rough ride, now show me evidence of that.”
Obviously, Mosby did not.
So now we’re left to ask this: Where is the justice for Freddie Gray?
Sadly, we’ll probably never know exactly what happened in that police van and I’m left to wonder if Mosby may have been overzealous.
What do you think?