A police officer in Baltimore, Maryland, has been acquitted of all charges Thursday in the death of an African-American man who suffered a severe spinal injury while in police custody, in a case that set off days of rioting in the US East Coast port city.
Caesar Goodson, who drove the police van in which Freddie Gray was injured, faced the most serious charge in the case, second-degree murder, and other counts.
Gray, 25, died in April 2015 after suffering a fatal injury while in the back of a police wagon. He was handcuffed and shackled but not secured by a seatbelt as required under police department policy.
Gray's death was one of the most prominent cases in a string of deaths of black men in police interactions that have exposed racial tensions and poor relations between police and the African-American community.
Goodson was the third Baltimore officer to face trial in the incident.
One officer's trial late last year in ended with the jury unable to reach a unanimous decision. Another officer facing only misdemeanour charges was found not guilty on May 23 in a bench trial.
Goodson, 46, waived his right to a jury, leaving the judge to reach an eventual verdict.
Gray suffered a severe neck injury after his arrest on April 12, 2015, apparently while being transported in the back of a police van.
He fell into a coma and died one week later. Gray had been taken into custody for carrying an illegal switchblade knife.
The Gray case drew attention to the practice by Baltimore police of so-called "rough rides," in which officers allegedly purposefully drove recklessly to punish the suspects being driven in police vans.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Judge Barry Williams said that prosecutors did not prove that there had been a "rough ride," which he called an "inflammatory term" that should "not to be taken lightly."
Four more Baltimore police officers remain to be tried in the Gray case.
Sunday, January 3, 2016 - 03:00