Caesar Goodson Jr., the third officer to be tried in the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore, has been found not guilty by the judge overseeing the trial. So far there have been no convictions in any of the cases.
The prosecution of the Baltimore officers by Sate Attorney Marilyn Mosby was overreaching to the extreme. In a move to satisfy the public outcry, she responded by charging officers without any evidence.
Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Rodricks wrote, “With precision, confidence and the no-nonsense style for which he is well known, Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams today destroyed the state’s case against Officer Caesar Goodson, exposing it as a vessel of clay and smashing it to bits.”
Over and over again, Judge Williams reiterated the complete lack of evidence presented during the trial.
“There was no evidence that Mr. Gray needed medical care.”
“There was no evidence Mr. Gray was given a rough ride.”
“There has been no information presented at this trial that the defendant intended for any crime to happen, nor has there been any evidence presented that the defendant communicated any information to a primary actor that he was ready, willing and able to lend support if needed to any crime.”
Just so you understand, I am a firm believer when there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing I have absolutely no problem with police officers being held accountable.
I’ve said before that sometimes there even is a gray area that needs to be decided by a jury.
In this case, there was only an inexperienced prosecutor giving in to political pressure.
Even before the trial, legal experts were critical of the charges.
In an NBC interview, before the trial, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz stated: “The charges just didn’t fit the facts. She indicted them and only afterwards did she do the work to come up with, after the fact, rationalizations.”
Just one day after the police investigation was completed, charges were filed.
That is something completely unheard of in a case with so much public attention.
Wouldn’t you want to review it with your team? Double check the evidence? Re-interview witnesses to ensure the case was factually accurate?
This was, and is, an extreme example of a prosecutor who made up the facts to suit a theory.
To quote Sherlock Holmes, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
State Attorney Mosby and her team made up a scenario they had no evidence to prove had even occurred.
In the end, the death of Freddie Gray has cost the public $6.4 million. While it may not have been intentional, there is a nexus between his detention, arrest and subsequent death.
I think everyone would admit there is civil liability. But not murder.
Civil lawsuits already have been filed by some of the officers against the prosecutor. The lawsuit filing states that decisions were made to prosecute officers not because of criminal culpability but to quell the civil unrest.
Legal experts believe the lawsuits won’t go anywhere — this despite Judge Williams’ findings there was no evidence of crime ever presented by the prosecutors.
The worst part of Mosby’s misguided prosecution of the officers has been the consequences for the citizens of Baltimore.
Baltimore ended 2015 with the deadliest year ever for homicides, with 344 people killed and more than 900 people shot.
If you think you’re going to jail just for showing up and doing your job, there probably isn’t much motivation to go out and do it — a message the bad guys in Baltimore have apparently heard loud and clear.
Here is Judge Williams’ verdict
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at email@example.com.