BALTIMORE – Wednesday was a dark day for honest and ethical police officers in Baltimore as seven cops from the department were federally indicted, bringing a cloud of suspicion over the entire organization. Yet cops with character will applaud the purging if the allegations prove true.
According to a damning federal indictment, seven Baltimore officers were so unfazed by U.S. Justice Department scrutiny of abusive policing that they kept falsely detaining people, stealing their money and property, and faking reports to cover it up, reported ABC News.
The officers charged with racketeering are detectives Momodu Gondo, Evodio Hendrix, Daniel Hersl, Wayne Jenkins, Jemell Rayam, Marcus Taylor and Maurice Ward. Gondo also is charged with participating in a drug conspiracy. All were arrested, suspended without pay and jailed overnight pending detention hearings Thursday.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the officers “arrogantly” ignored clear directives. “These officers are 1930s-style gangsters,” he said. “They betrayed the trust we’re trying to build with our community at a very sensitive time in our history.”
U.S. Attorney Rosenstein
The investigation began about a year ago announced U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein. Consequently, his office has “quietly dropped” five federal cases brought by one or more of the officers.
In September 2016, Gondo was recorded telling Rayam he had switched off his body camera before hitting a cellphone out of a woman’s hand.
“I turned the camera off,” Gondo said.
“Oh yeah, f*** that s***,” Rayam said. “So, basically it’s like you were never here.”
The explosive indictment reads more like a creation in Hollywood than a charging document, as the feds followed what they described as a squad of renegade officers committing brazen robberies and staging cover-ups to avoid detection by their supervisors, reported ABC.
Those accusations include:
- Three of the officers stopped a man on the street, searched his car without a warrant, took him home and stole $1,500 he had earned working as a maintenance supervisor at a nursing home. Rayam then allegedly wrote a false incident report, not mentioning the stolen money, and Jenkins approved it.
- Five of the officers stopped a man leaving a storage facility, lied that they had a search warrant, and then stole $2,000 from a sock containing $4,800. Federal authorities were listening: Inside an electronically surveilled police car, Rayam was recorded telling Gondo he’d only “taxed” the man “a little bit.”
- Four of the officers arrested a man during a traffic stop and confiscated drugs and $21,500 but turned only $15,000 over as evidence. Then they went to the man’s home and stole $200,000 and a $4,000 wristwatch from a safe deposit box.
According to the report the officers routinely claimed overtime pay for hours they didn’t work. Jenkins filed for five days when he was on vacation with his family, and other officers discussed going to a casino or a bar on days when they filed for overtime pay.
ABC News Report
Second Federal Indictment
Rosenstein also announced a second indictment charging a drug conspiracy. In the charging documents, Gondo is accused of dealing drugs and protecting his operation by tipping off drug dealers about law-enforcement tactics. “This is not about aggressive policing; it is about criminal conspiracy,” Rosenstein said.
Davis acknowledged that corrective measures need to taken within the department. “We wouldn’t be under a consent decree if we didn’t have issues,” he said. “We have issues.” He said other officers weren’t surprised when they learned who was indicted, because several of them have been the subject of numerous misconduct complaints and civil lawsuits alleging abuse.
Baltimore police union president, Gene Ryan, issued a statement saying he’s “disturbed” by the charges.
In a statement by the State’s Attorney’s office, the charges will have “pervasive implications on numerous active investigations and pending cases,” as well.
Rosenstein has been nominated for deputy attorney general; to serve under newly appointed AG, Jeff Sessions.
“I know the attorney general is committed to prosecuting criminals, whether they’re in police organizations or anyplace else, so I’m confident we have his support,” Rosenstein said.