By: Karina Johnson
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
BALTIMORE, Maryland — On Monday, February 12, 2018, two former detectives from the Baltimore Police Department were convicted of racketeering conspiracy, racketeering, and robbery as a part of an ongoing federal investigation into widespread corruption within the department.
The two detectives, Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, face maximum sentences of 60 years each, are part of a larger group of eight police officers from the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force that was indicted on March 1, 2017. The jury deliberated for 12 hours before delivering the guilty verdicts for each officer.
The officers were accused of falsifying hours worked for overtime pay, filing false court paperwork, and robbing and extorting citizens. Allegations extended to officers reselling the drugs and guns that they had seized from the streets. Six of the eight officers pled guilty to the charges, and the remaining two were tried in federal court. These two detectives have been on unpaid leave since their indictment in March 2017. The Baltimore Police Department is moving to terminate their employment following their conviction.
According to reports from BBC News and AP News, four ex-officers testified for the prosecution during the trial in hopes of a reduced sentence. Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, the leader of the Gun Trace Task Force since June 2016, pled guilty to stealing drugs from the people he arrested and admitted to planting heroin on a man who was sent to prison. Other officers told the jury that Jenkins instructed officers under his command to carry BB-guns in their police cars to plant in the even the officers shot an unarmed suspect.
The officers’ testimony further detailed how the Gun Trace Task Force was actually “made up of thugs with badges who stole cash, resold looted narcotics and lied under oath to cover their tracks,” and spoke of officers conducting armed home invasions going back to 2008. The testimony also alleged wrong-doing, ranging from active participation in crimes to the subsequent cover-ups, from a dozen other officers not involved in the proceedings. Among those mentioned included the head of Internal Affairs, an unnamed Baltimore assistant state’s attorney, an officer assigned to the police training academy, and homicide detective Sean Suiter. Detective Suiter was fatally shot with his own gun under mysterious circumstances the day before he was supposed to testify before a federal grand jury in connection with the case.
Following the March 2017 indictment, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said her office has identified 150 closed and adjudicated cases possibly tainted by the officers’ involvement and that of 50 active cases reviewed, 30 of them had the charges dropped. More recently, public defenders alleged that there could be several thousand cases going back to 2008 tainted by the officers’ involvement. As of the date of the verdict, 125 cases involving the indicted officers have been dropped.
The Federal investigations into the Baltimore Police Department were sparked by the acquittal of six officers connected to the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while handcuffed and transported in the back of a police vehicle.
For more information, please see:
The Baltimore Sun – Attorneys release video from Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force raid; criticize state’s attorney for inaction – 14 February 2018
AP News – 2 Baltimore detectives convicted of racketeering, robbery – 13 February 2018
BBC News – Who were the corrupt Baltimore police officers? – 13 February 2018
The Baltimore Sun – The Gun Trace Task Force trial has ended. What is Baltimore doing to prevent future police corruption – 12 February 2018
Los Angeles Times – Baltimore police officers found guilty of racketeering and robbery – 12 February 2018
NPR News – Baltimore Police Officers Convicted in Corruption Scandal – 12 February 2018
Newsweek – Police Unit Steals $100,000 in House Search Without Warrant in Rogue Cop Crime Spree, Prosecutors Say – 25 January 2018
The Baltimore Sun – Prosecutor who raised early questions about Gun Trace Task Force officer speaks out – 8 December 2017
The Washington Post – Convictions in cases involving 7 indicted Baltimore police may be overturned – 23 March 2017
The Baltimore Sun – Seven Baltimore Police officers indicted on federal racketeering charges – 1 March 2017