Disciplinary trial for BPD officer Caesar Goodson begins

First of three officers goes before trial board
Posted at 6:22 AM, Oct 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-31 09:46:53-04

The disciplinary trial for Baltimore police officer Caesar Goodson began Monday. 
The board will decide whether Goodson will be fired in connection with Freddie Gray's death.

Gray died in police custody in April 2015. His neck was broken in the back of a transport wagon while he was handcuffed. Gray was left unrestrained by a seat belt.  

Goodson was the driver of that van. He was acquitted of all criminal charges related to the case. This trial board, which is expected to last through next Monday, will determine whether Goodson will be terminated from the Baltimore Police Department, but the verdict will not be made public.

During Monday's opening statements, attorneys for the department stated the case is about duty, responsibility, and integrity, and that Goodson did not adhere to departmental policies.

Goodson's defense countered that the department failed in its duty and responsibility to properly train Goodson and provide the proper equipment. In short, Goodson's attorneys say this was a failure by the department and not the van driver.

The Baltimore Police Department issued a new seat belt order just two full days before Freddie Gray's arrest. Up to that point, prisoners were belted at the discretion of officers. The new rule made that mandatory. Goodson's defense argues that order was not made clear.

ABC2 News Investigative Reporter Brian Kuebler was the first to report how the seatbelt policy change was never discussed at roll call or enforced by commanders per the new policy.

Goodson's attorneys told the trial board he never knew putting a seat belt on prisoners was mandatory despite potential risks posed by the prisoner and claim Gray was a risk thrashing around in the van after his arrest.

At total of six officers were criminally charged in Gray's death but none were convicted. Five of the six officers now face disciplinary actions. The arresting officers, Edward Nero and Garrett Miller have accepted suspensions for their alleged rolls in Freddie Gray's death. Along with Officer Caesar Goodson, Sergeant Alicia White and Lieutenant Brian Rice will go before trial boards to determine whether or not they should be fired.

EDITORS NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect opening statements delivered to the trial board Monday morning.