Freddie Gray case: Judge will decide driver’s fate

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Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr., is one of six Baltimore, Maryland police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray was arrested by Baltimore police on April 12, 2015 and died on April 19. Goodson is charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of manslaughter by vehicle and misconduct in

BALTIMORE, Md. — The same judge who acquitted a Baltimore police officer last month in the Freddie Gray case will decide the fate of the next officer facing charges in connection with Gray’s death.

Officer Caesar Goodson elected for a bench trial Monday. That move means Judge Barry Williams, not a jury, will decide the verdict in his trial.

Goodson was the driver of the police transport van where prosecutors say Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury in April 2015.

Of the six officers who were charged, Goodson faces the most serious charges: second-degree depraved-heart murder, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter by vehicles (gross negligence), manslaughter by vehicles (criminal negligence) and reckless endangerment.

The death of Gray, who was black, ignited a wave of protests as debate surged nationwide over whether police use excessive force, particularly against African-Americans.

Riots erupted in Baltimore last year after Gray’s funeral.

In December, the judge declared a mistrial after a jury deadlocked in the case of William Porter, the first officer on trial in connection with the arrest and death of Gray. Porter is scheduled to face a new trial this year.

Last month, Williams acquitted Officer Edward Nero, one of three bike officers involved in the initial police encounter with Gray.

The verdict drew mostly outrage on social media but praise from police and the Gray family attorney.

Three other officers have yet to stand trial.