BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One day after fellow officers cleared the van driver of wrongdoing in Freddie Gray’s death, what’s next for the supervisors still facing administrative charges?
The lasting impact of the case on Baltimore policing.
In just five days, the highest ranking officer facing administrative charges for Gray’s in-custody death goes before a trial board.
Though, concerns about the process persist.
Mayor Catherine Pugh told WJZ that she wants to see reforms to these trial boards, and wants citizen involvement.
Officer Caesar Goodson’s lawyers placed the blame on the police department, and ended up getting their client cleared of administrative wrongdoing, of making false statements, failing to call a medic, and failing to secure Gray with a seat belt during the 2015 van ride that lead to his death.
So what does this mean for the administrative trials to come?
“If you were in the courtroom, and you saw the evidence they had available to prove that policies had been violated, it seemed like an uphill battle,” said David Jaros, professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Jaros has been following the case from the beginning.
“I absolutely believe that not only what happened to Mr. Gray, but what we learned from that day, all the way through the trial boards, is an indictment of how Baltimore is policing its citizens,” he said.
“Outside police agencies brought the administrative charges, and officers decided the fate at the trial boards. Police policing themselves.
The mayor has called for change.
“I think justice has taken its course,” Pugh said. “We’re going to focus on labor in the general assembly, so we can get citizens on our trial boards.”
“I just had an idea it was going to work out like that,” said Rev. Keith Bailey, who oversaw Gray’s community service. [Reporter: Why is that?] “Well, I feel that the system has failed us a lot…I believe it will happen again.”
Rev. Bailey was a mentor to Freddie Gray.
“Even though he’s gone, this will never bring him back. It’s a shame that this had to happen for the people to wake up,” Rev. Bailey said.
Police point to reforms, from new vans, to better training.
The officers involved largely contend they were scapegoats who never did anything to harm Gray, and that his death was simply a tragic accident.
“There’s no question the system should be held accountable for what happened to Mr. Gray,” Jaros said. “The question has been to figure out who.”
The trial board for Lt. Brian Rice starts Monday. The charges against him are not being made public beforehand.
All officers were cleared of criminal charges in Gray’s death.
Goodson is an 18-year veteran of Baltimore PD, and his lawyer says he looks forward to continuing on the job.