The Latest: Coalition wants officer discretion removed


BALTIMORE (AP) — The Latest on the acquittal of a Baltimore officer in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken in police custody (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

Freddie Gray’s death from a broken neck in police custody prompted Maryland lawmakers to enact some police reforms.

The Campaign for Justice, Safety and Jobs is a coalition that lobbied for changes including amending the Law Officers Bill of Rights to enable local governments to include voting civilians on police trial boards.

The campaign says in a statement that Baltimore should follow through on this if Democratic Sen. Catherine Pugh wins the mayor’s office in November.

But even more important is the “deep behavioral change” still needed in Baltimore Police Department culture, the campaign says.

The group says it’s “completely unacceptable” that police argued in the murder trial of Caesar Goodson that following regulations is “up to the discretion of officers.”

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3:10 p.m.

Baltimore’s prosecutors always faced an uphill battle obtaining criminal convictions against police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.

That’s according to Washington-based defense lawyer A. Scott Bolden. He says “the biggest obstacle is and always been that there were no eyewitnesses to when his injury actually occurred” in the police van.

Bolden says holding police accountable in these cases often depends on the civil justice system. Baltimore did agree to pay Gray’s family a $6.4 million civil judgment.

Bolden says that may be “the only justice we’re going to see in the Freddie Gray case.”

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3:00 p.m.

Baltimore’s police union president wants the state’s attorney to reconsider what he calls a “malicious prosecution” against six officers in the Freddie Gray case.

Gene Ryan said after the prosecutors’ third failure to win a conviction, more trials would be “an insult to the taxpaying citizens of Baltimore.”

Officer Caesar Goodson faced the most serious charges, including “depraved heart” murder for his role driving the van where Gray’s neck was broken.

Ryan accused State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby of playing politics and said it’s time to put “this sad chapter behind us.”

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2:15 p.m.

Baltimore’s police commissioner is commending residents for remaining peaceful in the wake of another officer’s acquittal in the Freddie Gray case.

Commissioner Kevin Davis said he’s pleased by the peaceful way Baltimore residents are expressing “their diverse opinions” in reaction to Wednesday’s verdict.

The officer who was acquitted, Cesar Goodson, had been driving the van carrying Gray when the young man suffered a neck injury. Gray’s death last year set off the city’s worst riots in decades.

Davis said the police department has changed since then and will continue to adopt practices “consistent with the expectations” of the community.

His statement says he believes residents will continue to act in a way that represents “the very best of Baltimore.”

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2 p.m.

While prosecutors have yet to win a conviction in the death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore legislator says the young black man’s death in police custody has prompted reforms.

Democratic Del. Curt Anderson spoke Thursday outside the courthouse where a judge found Officer Caesar Goodson not guilty of all charges.

Anderson said legislation taking effect in October is “day and night” in terms of how the law treats police accused of crimes. It includes changes to the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights that provide more time for citizen complaints and reduce the time officers can delay giving statements.

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1:30 p.m.

About a dozen demonstrators have marched from the courthouse to Baltimore’s central tourist attraction after another officer was acquitted in the case of Freddie Gray, a young black man who was fatally injured in police custody.

The group marched Thursday to the Inner Harbor after the judge’s not guilty verdict was delivered. They carried signs that said “Stop racism now.”

The officer who was acquitted, Cesar Goodson, had been driving the van carrying Gray when the young man suffered a neck injury. Prosecutors had argued he failed to belt Gray in and get medical attention for him.

Goodson, along with the judge, also are black.

Meanwhile, the Campaign for Justice, Safety, and Jobs says the verdict underscores the need for police reform. The group pushed for the issue in the 2016 legislative session.

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1 p.m.

Dozens of demonstrators who waited outside the courthouse quietly expressed their frustration and anger after the verdict.

Tawanda Jones, who leads a weekly protest in Baltimore over the death of her own brother during his arrest, cried as she said: “We need to dismantle this corrupt system.”

Angel Selah, an African-American woman who painted half her face white and held a noose around her neck, carried a sign saying: “Modern Day Lynching Got America Stinking.”

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11:15 a.m.

Officials and residents are reacting to the acquittal of the police van driver on all charges in the death of Freddie Gray.

State Sen. Catherine Pugh is the Democratic nominee in Baltimore’s mayor race. She issued a statement Thursday after the judge gave his verdict. The statement urges residents to be patient. It says: “Protests are a vital part of democracy, but to destroy the homes and businesses many people have worked very hard to build is unacceptable. … It is important to respect each other and to respect our neighborhoods.”

Gray’s death last year set off protests and violence.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s office also issued a statement. It says he respects the legal process and verdict. It notes that “over the past year, the people of Baltimore city have made tremendous progress in rebuilding their communities and businesses.”

Outside the courthouse, a small group of protesters chanted before the verdict: “We can’t stop. We won’t stop, till killer cops are in cell blocks.”

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10:50 a.m.

A judge has found a Baltimore Police van driver not guilty of all charges in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, whose broken neck in police custody set off Baltimore’s worst riots in decades.

Six officers were charged in Gray’s death, but only Officer Caesar Goodson was accused of murder. Gray was fatally injured after officers bound his hands and feet and Goodson left him unprotected by a seat belt that prosecutors say would have kept him from slamming into the van’s metal walls.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams delivered his verdict Thursday after hearing five days of testimony in the non-jury trial. He found Goodson not guilty of “depraved-heart” murder, manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment.

Protests and rioting after Gray’s death on April 19, 2015 set the city on fire, forcing Maryland to bring in the National Guard. The unrest forced the city’s mayor to abandon her re-election campaign, and the Department of Justice opened an investigation into allegations of widespread police abuse.

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10 a.m.

Judge Barry Williams has weighed six counts against Officer Caesar Goodson in the death of Freddie Gray.

Murder carries the toughest penalty — 30 years in prison. A conviction would require the judge to decide that Goodson did, “with malice aforethought, kill and murder” the arrestee in the back of his van.

Goodson also was charged with assault, carrying a 10-year sentence; three counts of manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years; reckless endangerment, punishable by 5 years; and misconduct in office, the penalty for which is left up to the judge.

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9:30 a.m.

A handful of demonstrators and many photographers and videographers are gathered outside a Baltimore courthouse to await a verdict in the trial of one of the six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of a young, black man.

A judge is expected to announce his decision Thursday on the charges Caesar Goodson faces, including murder. Goodson is charged in the death last year of Freddie Gray, who was a passenger in Goodson’s detainee transport van.

Officer William Porter’s case ended in a mistrial, while Officer Edward Nero was acquitted. Porter and three other officers have trials scheduled this summer and fall.

Nero arrived at the courthouse Thursday amid security from sheriff’s deputies, who went inside with him.

Demonstrators’ signs read, “Justice for Freddie Gray,” ”Jail Killer Police” and “Stop the War on Black America.”

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3:50 a.m.

A Baltimore judge is poised to deliver his verdict in the murder trial of an officer who drove the police van where a black arrestee’s neck was broken, triggering some of the worst riots the city has ever seen.

Caesar Goodson was charged with murder, manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

Twenty-five-year-old Freddie Gray died a week after suffering a spinal injury in Goodson’s wagon, where officers left him handcuffed and shackled but unrestrained by a seat belt. His death set off protests and violence, and prompted State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to bring charges against six officers.

The sweeping case ended the career of the police commissioner and aborted the political future of the mayor. Some say Mosby’s reputation also hinges on its outcome.

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