A 25-year-old black man got a "rough ride" in the back of a Baltimore police van, critically injuring his spine and causing his death, a prosecutor said Thursday, per the AP. The van driver, Officer Caesar Goodson, is on trial facing second-degree murder, manslaughter, and other charges stemming from Freddie Gray's death. Prosecutors had hinted that Gray received a rough ride when he was arrested April 12, 2015, but the chief deputy state's attorney's accusation during opening statements of the van driver's trial was the first time they had explicitly said so. Prosecutors say Goodson is the most culpable in Gray's death, and he faces the most serious charges of the six officers who were charged. Goodson's attorney, however, says his client did nothing wrong when he transported Gray without first securing him with a seatbelt, saying that officers "virtually never" belt prisoners.
Prosecutors say Goodson was grossly negligent when he failed to buckle Gray in and call for medical aid during Gray's 45-minute ride in the back of Goodson's transport van that day in April. Gray died a week after he suffered his spinal injury in the back of the van. His death prompted protests and civil unrest in the streets of Baltimore, and his name became a national rallying cry for people angry over officers' mistreatment of African-Americans. Goodson, who was the only officer present at each of the six stops made while Gray was in the van, faces 30 years in prison if he's convicted of the murder charge. If prosecutors fail to secure a guilty verdict, it will be the third straight trial in which they haven't gotten a favorable decision: The first trial ended in a hung jury, and the second finished with an acquittal last month of Edward Nero, one of Gray's arresting officers. (Read more Freddie Gray stories.)