KINGSTON, N.Y.—A judge has dropped a murder charge against a state trooper in the death of an 11-year-old girl during a high-speed chase on the New York State Thruway.
Christopher Baldner still faces a second-degree manslaughter charge and other counts stemming from the Dec. 22, 2020 highway chase north of New York City that led to the death of Monica Goods.
Baldner pepper sprayed the vehicle during a stop for speeding and Monica’s father, Tristin Goods, drove off. Baldner pursued and rammed his police vehicle into the SUV twice. The SUV flipped over several times and came to rest upside down, according to prosecutors.
Monica was ejected from the vehicle and died.
Ulster County Judge Bryan Rounds ruled Thursday that evidence was unable to prove Baldner acted with “depraved indifference to human life” when he rammed the vehicle.
Evidence “supports only the conclusion that this defendant ignored agency protocols and exercised extremely poor judgment in a foolish attempt to perform his job,” Rounds wrote, according to the Times-Herald Record.
The attorney general’s office said it was reviewing the ruling.
Baldner is currently suspended without pay.