Prosecutors Grilled at End of Freddie Gray Murder Trial

     BALTIMORE (CN) — Prosecutors struggled under questioning from the court Monday as they wrapped up arguments in the trial of a police officer charged with murdering Freddie Gray.
     Judge Barry Williams, who is presiding over the second-degree murder bench trial, questioned Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow during rebuttal arguments about the state’s theory that officer Casar Goodson Jr. gave Freddie Gray a “rough ride.” The state attributes this rough ride for the spinal cord injury that killed 25-year-old Gray a week after his arrest.
     Schatzow hesitated for several seconds when Williams asked what evidence the state produced that actually showed a “rough ride” had been given to Gray, whose April 19, 2015, death sparked protests around the city.
     The prosecutor told the judge that the combination of handcuffing, shackling and failing to restrain Gray with a seatbelt were all grossly negligent and criminal actions that evidenced Goodson’s culpability.
     Although Schatzow introduced the rough-ride theory during opening arguments, fellow prosecutor Janice Bledsoe didn’t mention the subject in her closing arguments. But the subject became unavoidable after defense attorney Matthew Fraling’s closing arguments.
     Williams asked Schatzow if the injuries sustained by Gray could have been the result of a simple accident. The judge also asked whether a rough ride required intent, and if there was any evidence to show that intent.
     Schatzow said evidence from CCTV showed Goodson rolling through a stop and taking a wide right turn. Goodson also allegedly stopped the van and checked on the prisoner without calling into to dispatch, and only minutes later called for a prisoner check.
     Williams was quick to ask Schatzow why Goodson stopped and checked on Gray if his intent was to harm him.
     The prosecutor said that the consequences of the ride had been more than Goodson intended and that after checking on the prisoner, he decided to call for help. Fellow officer William Porter responded minutes later and interacted with Gray, who confirmed his wish to see a medic after he was helped off the floor of the transport van.
     Fraling opened his closing argument by comparing the state’s case with a game of Three Card Monty.
     “They want you to find the black ace and then they reshuffle the cards,” Fraling said.
     Williams questioned Fraling’s assertions that Goodson was not solely responsible for seat-belting Gray. The judge asked if at some point Goodson had to drive off with Gray, “who else is supposed to figure that out?”
     Fraling stayed very close to the argument the defense had maintained throughout the case: that Gray had been combative during the arrest and despite his moments of quiet, he continued to be a threat to police officers.
     Bledsoe argued Goodson failed in his duties at least four times when he did not take Gray to the hospital following a discussion with Porter at the fourth stop on the six-stop trip.
     Gray was driven between his arrest and the final stop the van made at the Western District Police Station, where Gray was found unresponsive.
     Fraling argued Goodson did not get medical aid for Gray because Gray’s pleas may have been an attempt to avoid going to the booking center.
     He said prosecutors didn’t acknowledge Goodson’s power of discretion that all officers have when they are working out in the field.
     Williams questioned Fraling about the police officer’s duty to reassess the situation as it progressed.
     The judge set the announcement of his decision in the bench trial of Goodson for Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

(Illustration by Benjamin Rogers)

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