Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Baltimore Police officer Caesar Goodson was found not guilty of all administrative charges for the 2015 death of Freddie Gray and will not be fired, a police trial board ruled Tuesday.
Goodson, 48, faced possible termination for his role in Gray's death if any of the more than 20 charges against him was sustained.
The board of three police officers made the unanimous decision to clear him of all charges. He also was acquitted of charges including second-degree depraved-heart murder in a separate criminal trial.
"This is a vindication of this officer," one of Goodson's attorneys, Sean Malone, said. "This is a tragic accident that happened, and we're sorry for the loss of Mr. Gray. But we're glad that our client is not going to be the face of this incident."
Goodson was the driver of a police van in which Gray was found with multiple severe spinal cord injuries. Goodson was charged with neglecting his duty for failing to ensure Gray's safety with a seat belt or calling a medic after he requested one. Gray died days later.
Goodson testified he hadn't been made aware of policy changes requiring officers to secure detainees in seat belts and provide medical attention if necessary or requested.
"We believe in our heart of hearts, had they simply been told what the order was, they would have acted in accordance with that general order," Malone said.
Neil Duke, who prosecuted the case for the city, said Goodson should have been fired for his failure to follow the policy, adding Gray became a "floppy fish" in the back of the van and was not physically violent.
"Let's assume Goodson's version of events --- bang, bang, bang, bang -- wouldn't that make him check? Figure out what's going on? Bang, bang, bang, bang -- isn't the sanctity of life important? Where's the compassion? Goodson says, 'I didn't pay no mind.' That's indifference," Duke said.
The board's decision to clear Goodson of the charges is final and can't be challenged by the city or the police department.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the department "will stay the course" with trials of Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, who were also charged in the case.
"Freddie Gray died in police custody. My thoughts and prayers remain with the Gray family," Davis said. "We will continue to make improvements within our organization to meet the expectations of constitutional policing demanded by our community."