‘Rough Ride’ Testimony in Freddie Gray Trial

     BALTIMORE (CN) — Prosecutors in the case against the Baltimore police officer accused of giving Freddie Gray a “rough ride” rested on Wednesday, but not before presenting an expert witness who testified about the practice.
     Following the prosecution’s move, Officer Caesar Goodson’s attorneys presented Judge Barry Williams with a motion to dismiss all counts against the police van driver accused of second-degree murder and other charges related to injuries sustained by the 25-year-old while in police custody.
     Gray died on April 19, 2015, a week after suffering the spinal cord injury in the Baltimore police van.
     Williams, who is hearing Goodson’s bench trial, granted the prosecution the opportunity to respond to the motion in written or oral arguments before the trial resumes with the defense’s case on Thursday.
     Stanford O’Neill Franklin took the stand Wednesday to testify to the prosecution’s assertion that Goodson, 46, gave Gray a “rough ride” in retaliation for resisting arrest and creating a scene that drew local residents from their homes on the morning of April 12, 2015.
     Despite prosecutors’ best efforts to insinuate Goodson intentionally made sudden accelerations, stops or turns, which could have thrown Gray around the cramped space in the back of the van, Franklin was unable to present any direct evidence that Goodson had done so.
     Defense attorney Matthew Fraling used his cross-examination of Franklin — who testified that, as a state police trooper, he had been involved in the arrest of an individual who had been given a rough ride — to establish that Gray had been combative and posed a risk to officer safety. Fraling asserted that, despite general orders for Baltimore police, officers had discretion in matters that directly affect officer safety.
     Franklin also testified that he had not read any reports, seen witness statements or seen closed-circuit television footage showing Goodson’s van accelerating or decelerating too quickly or making unexpected turns.
     Fraling pressed Franklin on Goodson’s responsibility to respond to a call for a transport wagon following an urgent call for backup by other officers in the vicinity of Goodson’s position.
     The defense attorney asked Franklin if Goodson had an absolute duty to transport Gray to a hospital even if he was not showing outward signs of medical distress. Franklin, who testified to an absolute responsibility to protect the life of a detainee, responded that Goodson did have discretion to respond to the call.
     Franklin, a 23-year law enforcement veteran and an expert witness in police training, policy, procedures and practices, testified that Goodson was responsible for seat-belting Gray, who was handcuffed and shackled before he was placed in the transport vehicle. Gray sustained a severe neck injury during transportation and died a week later in a local hospital.
     Franklin — the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, who admitted under cross-examination that he had not studied, written about or given testimony on the subject of rough rides — testified that shackled prisoners are susceptible to injury during transport because they cannot brace themselves from sudden stops that might occur when police retaliate against arrestees by placing them in transport vans.
     Also called to the stand on the fifth day of the trial was the EMS technician who responded to police calls for a medic when Gray was found unresponsive in the back of the van after it made its sixth and final stop at the Western District Police Station.
     Angelique Herbert, a 17-year veteran with the Baltimore City Fire Department, said Gray’s neck felt “like a crumbly, like a bag of stones,” and that she treated him with medication for a possible overdose because she was not able to garner any information from the officers at the scene as to the cause of Gray’s condition.
     Herbert told the court she asked the officers on the scene, including Goodson, “What the F did you guys do,” and that she only saw shoulders shrug and no response from the four officers at the back of the van. One officer did tell Herbert that Gray may have been banging his head against the side of the van, she said.
     Goodson also reportedly aided the emergency personnel in stabilizing Gray, placing a backboard on him and transferring him to a gurney.
     The trial is expected to resume Thursday with Williams’ decision on the motion to dismiss filed by Goodson’s attorneys, before the defense begins its case.

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