A grand jury has indicted New York State Trooper Christopher Baldner on murder and other charges for allegedly ramming a family’s car after he escalated a traffic stop in 2020. The impact ejected 11-year-old Monica Goods from the family’s vehicle, killing her. Authorities say Baldner was also charged for a similar incident from 2019.
“Police officers are entrusted to protect and serve, but Trooper Baldner allegedly violated that trust when he used his car as a deadly weapon and killed a young girl,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James (D) in a statement obtained by Law&Crime. “While nothing will bring Monica back, we must hold law enforcement to the highest standards, which is why my office is committed to seeking justice in this case.”
Baldner was patrolling along the New York State Thruway in Ulster County on the night of Dec. 22, 2020, authorities said. He pulled over a car that Goods’ father was driving, saying that the man was speeding, authorities said.
“During the stop, Baldner deployed pepper spray into the interior of the car and Mr. Goods sped away,” Attorney General James’s office wrote. “During the pursuit, Baldner twice rammed his police vehicle into the rear of the Goods car. Upon the second strike, the Goods car flipped over several times and came to rest upside down. The impact ejected Monica Goods from the car, and she died.”
Monica’s father Tristin Goods claimed Baldner was unnecessarily aggressive and escalated the situation by deploying pepper spray in the family’s SUV.
Handcuffed in the back seat of a New York State Trooper’s car, Brooklyn resident Tristin Goods could only watch helplessly as his 11-year-old daughter was taken away in a body bag.
The police confrontation led to her needless death, he says.https://t.co/BpJpedFW57
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 20, 2021
“He was screaming at me, ‘You were going 100 miles per hour and you shook my car!’ Goods told The New York Daily News in a June 20 report.
Goods said he responded by saying the trailer in front of him shook Baldner’s car. He maintained that he had his hands on the steering wheel and that he did not get out of the vehicle. Baldner allegedly demanded to know if there were guns or drugs in the car, and said the following when Goods’s wife April said she was tired: “I don’t give a shit if you’re tired.”
Goods said the trooper went back to the cruiser and returned to the SUV with pepper spray. According to Goods, Baldner knew there were young girls in the vehicle. Baldner never warned them or told him he was under arrest, Goods claimed.
Goods said he then drove away instinctively.
“I didn’t know what he was going to do next,” Goods said. “I was like, ‘Holy shit. This guy is going to kill me now.'”
Baldner allegedly rammed the Goods vehicle twice, and after the second hit, the family’s SUV struck a guardrail, flipped and rolled. Monica was ejected from the car.
Goods was driving his wife, daughter Monica, and 12-year-old daughter during the incident.
“This should have been a traffic ticket,” said Goods’ attorney Joseph O’Connor.
Baldner faces charges of murder in the second degree, manslaughter in the second degree, and reckless endangerment in the first degree. He is also charged with ramming a car in an unrelated incident from September 2019.
“Additionally, the indictment alleges that, in September of 2019, Baldner similarly endangered the lives of three passengers by using his police vehicle to ram their car,” the attorney general’s office stated.
Governor Kathy Hochul (D) has issued an executive order for James to serve as special prosecutor to investigate and if necessary, prosecute this Sept. 6, 2019 incident. She also referenced another collision involving Baldner from Jan. 26, 2017, but this incident is not covered in the indictment.
“Trooper Baldner surrendered this morning and was immediately suspended without pay,” New York State Police spokesman William Duffy said in a statement to Law&Crime. “The State Police investigated this matter and cooperated with the attorney general’s office and will continue to do so. As with every state police investigation, our mission is to determine facts and ensure that justice is served, even when it involves one of our own members. Accountability is critically important to our agency.”
[Image via New York State Police]
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