Now, the New York State Attorney General Letitia James is filing charges against the officer, Christopher Baldner, her office announced.
Baldner was reportedly indicted by a grand jury Wednesday, on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, and several reckless endangerment charges related to the December incident.
Prosecutors: Christopher Baldner Murdered Monica Goods
According to the Attorney General’s office, Monica Goods was in her father’s car for an alleged speeding infraction on Dec. 22 at 11:40 p.m. when Baldner pulled them over along Route I-87 in Ulster County, about 95 miles north of New York City.
“During the stop, Baldner deployed pepper spray into the interior of the car and Mr. Goods sped away,” prosecutors said in a statement Wednesday.
“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,” they added.
Because the case involves a civilian death caused by a police officer, the Attorney General’s Office is investigating and prosecuting the case, officials noted.
Five of the eight counts that Baldner was indicted on stem from the death of Monica Goods. The other three are reportedly related to another incident in September, 2019, wherein Baldner allegedly “endangered the lives of three passengers by using his police vehicle to ram their car,” the Attorney General’s Office wrote.
“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 Attorney General James in a written statement. “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.”
The Police Benevolent Association of New York State Troopers, the union which represents Christopher Baldner, said it plans to fight the charges.
“As this case makes its way through the legal system, we look forward to a review and public release of the facts, including the motorist’s reckless actions that started this chain of events,” union President Thomas Mungeer wrote in a statement.
No Video to Aid Investigation
In June, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported that the incident was not caught on video, a fact that will likely complicate the investigation. The outlet noted that New York State Police have “for years lagged behind most other states in equipping their state police with body or dashboard cameras.”
The only video footage that exists of the incident, according to the Journal, comes from dashcams on Ulster County Sheriff’s Office squad cars that responded to the scene of the accident.
The earliest reports of the incident came from State Police officials, who the Journal said left out important details, including Christopher Baldner’s use of pepper spray on Tristan Goods, and that the state trooper “initiated contact during the chase.”
Prior reporting indicates that Monica was travelling with her father Tristan Goods, her mother, and her 12-year-old sister visiting family for Christmas when she was killed.
Christopher Baldner is Awaiting Hearing
The Attorney General’s Office said that Baldner appeared before an Ulster County judge Wednesday for his arraignment and is still in police custody.
He will make a bail application on the date of his next hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 4, prosecutors said.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Baldner faces a maximum sentence of 25 year to life behind bars.