Thursday, 14 November, 2019

Push for Police Reform After Conviction of Two Baltimore Officers

A man walks past a Baltimore police patrol car A man walks past a Baltimore police patrol car. Patrick Semansky AP
Russell Knight | 15 February, 2018, 06:32

Prosecutors said they and their comrades on the Gun Trace Task Force had acted as "both cops and robbers", using the power of their badges to steal large sums of money from residents under the guise of police work.

Two Baltimore police detectives have been convicted of racketeering, conspiracy and robbery in a trial that's part of an ongoing federal investigation into corruption among rogue members of the city's beleaguered police force.

They were acquitted of possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.

After the verdict on Monday State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby called the facts revealed at the trial "deeply disturbing" and said her office was "continuing to comb through the cases" potentially implicated by the officers' illegal acts. These guys were involved in nothing short of violent, armed robbery against people who correctly anxious that they had no recourse for justice in the courts. Four of them testified against their ex-colleagues, along with drug dealers who struck deals for more lenient punishments. Justin Fenton is a reporter with The Baltimore Sun newspaper, who has been following the case, and he's with us now.

Also addressing the media was Hersl's distraught older brother, Steve.

WBAL-TV 11 lead investigative I-Team reporter Jayne Miller broke down the Gun Trace Task Force corruption trial with C4 on Tuesday.

Another man weeping outside the court was Alex Hilton.

"Now I feel free", Hilton said.

Asked if he now felt "closure", Hilton explained the moment he found it: "When they put the handcuffs on them". And they face 60 years in prison.

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Hersl and Taylor join six former officers who previously pleaded guilty in the case and were subsequently fired.

The officers seized drugs and guns on the street, unlawfully took money from drug dealers and even framed and locked up innocent people.

Darryl De Sousa, acting Police Commissioner for the city of Baltimore, said the trial "uncovered some of the most egregious and despicable acts ever perpetrated in law enforcement".

"Our job moving forward is to earn back the trust and response of the community".

Several city leaders also condemned the officers' actions, and said they hoped the verdict would serve as a deterrent against future misconduct.

De Sousa said he will create a special unit to investigate allegations made during the trial that didn't directly involve the indicted officers.

Witnesses described wrongdoing by a dozen other police officers.

They testified that their supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, a former amateur mixed-martial-arts fighter, told them to carry BB guns in case they needed to plant weapons, conspired with a crooked bail bondsman, and occasionally posed as a federal agent when shaking people down.

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