BALTIMORE (AP) – A small group of demonstrators gathered Thursday evening at the intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenues in Baltimore, the scene of intense protests last year after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken in police custody.
The People’s Power Assembly organized the demonstration to continue to press for criminal justice reform in the wake of a judge’s decision earlier Thursday to acquit the police officer who faced the most serious charges in Gray’s death.
The demonstrators, plenty of police officers, and reporters and photographers covering reaction to the verdict were added to an otherwise normal rush hour at the intersection, which is home to a subway station and a library branch.
Officer Caesar Goodson, 46, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office in the death of Gray, who suffered a catastrophic spinal injury when officers bound his hands and feet but left him otherwise unrestrained inside the metal compartment
Goodson’s trial was the third without a conviction in the sweeping case against six officers that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced in the wake of protests and rioting in Baltimore’s inner city following Gray’s death. The violence ended the police commissioner’s career and aborted the mayor’s political future. Some say Mosby’s reputation now hinges on the outcome.
The first two trials ended without convictions: Officer Edward Nero was acquitted of misdemeanors by the same judge, Barry Williams. And the only officer so far to choose a jury trial, William Porter, will be retried in September after the jury failed to agree on his fate.