The family of Freddie Gray stands behind prosecutors but is frustrated and disappointed with the acquittal Thursday of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. on all charges related to Gray's death, family attorney William H. "Billy" Murphy said.
They feel that many people in the city share their frustration with the ruling, in part because they haven't been able to watch the proceedings, and they want that to change in the future.
Goodson, the driver of the police van in which 25-year-old Freddie Gray suffered fatal spinal cord injuries last year, was cleared by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams of second-degree murder, three counts of manslaughter and other charges after an eight-day trial. He is the second officer to be acquitted of the six officers charged in the case by Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby.
"Even though the family gives its 100-percent support to one of the most courageous prosecutors in the United States, Marilyn Mosby, who has led the fight against police brutality and police corruption, they are nonetheless disappointed that the goal of the prosecution has not been achieved," Murphy said during a news conference in his downtown offices Thursday afternoon. "They also understand everybody else's anger and frustration that no police officer has yet been brought to justice in this case."
Gray's mother, Gloria Darden, and step-father, Richard Shipley, stood by Murphy's side but did not speak. Darden occasionally dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.
All the officers have pleaded not guilty; the remaining four are scheduled to stand trial consecutively over the course of the next four months.
Murphy said the family believes that Mosby is "fighting for a just cause." He said he has confidence in Williams, even if he disagrees with him. But he called for broader reform to the state's court system — namely to the law in Maryland that bars cameras from being in courtrooms.
Murphy said that law is contributing to the frustration felt throughout the city about the way the trials have gone so far.
"We have all the technology in the world to permit [cameras], but this court system of ours, starting with our highest court, has said 'no' to putting cameras in the court room," Murphy said. "This is a serious mistake in cases of such high levels of public concern, because instead of relying on talking heads who have their own flavor about what they saw and heard in that courtroom, the public has the right to see for itself why this was a not guilty verdict and whether that was the appropriate verdict in this case."
Murphy said changing the law for the first time in Maryland's history is a top priority of Gray's family.
"Instead of rumor and speculation and innuendo about what happened, who should have done what, whether the prosecution was weak or strong, whether the defense was stronger than the prosecution, whether the participants in the trial did their job, the public has a right to see that for itself," he said. "It can no longer be tolerated that the public cannot just tune in to their televisions and watch as much of this as they want."
Murphy said Gray's family is "enormously relieved that the city understood the difference between civil and criminal liability" and has already agreed to a $6.4 million civil settlement with the family out of court. Civil cases have a lower burden of proof.
Of the pending trials of the other officers, Murphy said Gray's family has "the same view" as they have had about all the trials.
"People should be calm, they should not react with unreasonable anger," he said. He said there also "should be no disturbances in the wake of this trial."
Murphy said Gray's family is "a very patient family" and will continue to await justice.
"They have a bigger stake in this personally than anybody else in the United States," he said, "and it's exemplary that they are, under the circumstances, calm, cool and collected, even though their emotions are involved."