Rough-ride theory, Freddie Gray's injuries disputed as Officer Goodson trial continues

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Over two days of testimony in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., Detective Michael Boyd used city surveillance footage and his own recollection of the police investigation into Freddie Gray's death to reconstruct the route of the police van in which Gray was fatally injured.

Prosecutors did not ask Boyd to describe the manner in which Goodson was driving the van.


On Tuesday, Goodson's attorney did.

Attorney Matthew Fraling asked Boyd whether he saw any evidence that Goodson made an abrupt stop, start or turn while Gray was in the van.


"No, sir," Boyd said.

The testimony stood out in a case that has so far touched little on the prosecution's theory that Goodson gave Gray what's known as a "rough ride" in the van last April.

Goodson is charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder in Gray's death. In his opening statement last week, Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow told Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams that Gray was "injured because he got a 'rough ride'" and "because of the way the officer transported him."

During the trial, prosecutors have introduced a video of Goodson rolling through a stop sign making a wide right turn. They showed video from moments later of Goodson making a brief stop and going to the rear of the van just before he called for help to check on Gray.

But over four days of testimony from 19 witnesses, prosecutors have presented little other evidence to support the theory.

On Tuesday afternoon, Williams allowed the defense to call two witnesses, both medical experts who questioned the autopsy finding that Gray's death was a homicide.

But the prosecution has not rested its case and is expected to call more witnesses Wednesday morning. One could be Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore police officer and Maryland state trooper whom prosecutors have previously said they intend to call as an expert witness on "retaliatory prisoner transportation practices."

In addition to second-degree murder, Goodson, 46, faces three counts of manslaughter and other charges in Gray's death. He has selected a bench trial, which means Williams alone will decide his legal fate.


Six witnesses — including Boyd — took the stand for the prosecution Tuesday. Three were called after Boyd to establish that Gray's blood was found in the back of the van.

Crime lab technician Thomas Wisner testified that he collected suspected blood samples from the back of the van. Serologist Virginia Cates testified she confirmed the samples were blood. Thomas Hebert, a DNA analyst, confirmed some of the samples — including from the wall of the van, the seat and the seat belt — matched Gray's DNA.

Prosecutors then called Detective Edward Bailey, a compliance and inspections officer who conducted audits in April and September 2014 to determine whether police officers had secured detainees in the back of their vans with seat belts.

The actual audits and their findings — revealed in a previous trial to show broad compliance — were not entered into evidence. Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe attempted to submit the reports, but Williams sustained a defense objection to the submission. He did not explain his decision.

After Bailey, the state called Stacey Lyles-Foster, the acting warden of the Central Booking and Intake Facility in Baltimore. She testified that detainees brought to the facility by police van are given quick medical assessments, and rejected if medical personnel there do not believe the detainee would be able to "withstand" the 24-hour booking process before receiving care.

She testified that 612 detainees were rejected in 2014 of 42,852 brought to the facility. In 2015, she said, 619 of 32,782 individuals were rejected.


On cross examination, Lyles-Foster said Gray had been rejected at the facility for medical reasons in December 2014. She said medical personnel believed he was having a possible overdose.

Goodson's attorney, Andrew Graham, asked her if they believed that because Gray had told them he was having an overdose; Lyles-Foster said she did not know.

Gray died one week after his arrest. His death sparked widespread protests against police brutality. On the day he was buried, the city erupted in riots, looting and arson.

Six Baltimore police officers have been charged in his arrest and death. All have pleaded not guilty.

Officer William Porter was the first to go to trial in December. Williams' case was declared a mistrial after the 12-member jury was unable to reach a consensus on any of the charges against him. He is to be retried later this year.

Officer Edward Nero, one of the officers involved in Gray's initial stop and arrest, was acquitted of all charges by Williams at a bench trial last month.


All of the prosecution witnesses Tuesday came before a midday break.

Upon return to the courtroom, Williams announced the defense would call one of its witnesses: Dr. Jonathan Arden, a former medical examiner in Washington and now a consultant in forensic pathology.

Williams did not explain why the defense would begin presenting witnesses before the prosecution had rested its case.

Arden testified that he did not agree with the finding of assistant medical examiner Dr. Carol Allan that Gray's death was a homicide.

Even under the prosecution's understanding of the facts, Arden said, he did not believe Gray was injured until the final leg of the van transport — after Goodson and other officers had checked on him multiple times.

Arden said Gray's injuries would have caused immediate paralysis to his lower extremities and "at best" significant impairment to his higher extremities.


Gray would have had a "very difficult time breathing, much less talking," he said.

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Prosecutors have alleged Goodson was negligent and careless in not providing medical assistance at the earlier stops. But Arden testified that such attention would not have helped Gray because Gray was not injured at those stops.

The defense also called Dr. Joel Winer, a neurosurgery expert who testified that Gray's injury "isn't something that occurs through evolution," but would have been immediate — leaving Gray "floppy like a dish rag or a jellyfish" and unable to sit up, as Porter has testified he did at the fourth and fifth stops.

Allan and the prosecution allege Gray was already injured at the fourth stop.

The testimony of the defense witnesses contradicted that of the prosecution's neurosurgery expert. Dr. Morris Soriano testified that Gray's injuries — and thus his symptoms — could have worsened over time.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.