A federal civil lawsuit recently filed against Baltimore Police Sergeant Welton Simpson Jr. for violating the civil rights of a Baltimore man in January 2020 also revealed that the veteran cop had been accused of sexually assaulting his then-wife.

The protective order has been something of an open secret in legal circles for years and was first reported on by the Baltimore Sun earlier this week. “In 2010, a judge issued a domestic violence related protective order against Simpson in favor of his wife based on allegations that Simpson held his service weapon to her head while he sexually assaulted her,” the lawsuit reads. 

Battleground Baltimore has obtained the protective order, which provides a detailed and harrowing account of alleged abuse by Simpson. “On October 6, 2009… Welton Simpson Jr. raped and held me against my will with 2 guns. One being his service weapon for the Baltimore City Police Department,” his wife wrote in 2010.

October 2009

According to the protective order, around 3AM on Oct. 6, 2009, Simpson demanded he see his wife’s phone. He looked through the history of the phone, and told her they “needed to talk when he returned home.” When he returned around 10:30AM, he began looking through his wife’s computer, at her internet browser history. When she confronted him, he asked, “Now, can we talk?”

Simpson made his wife go into the bedroom, where he wielded two guns and asked her about an affair. He looked at his wife’s phone history again, and then, his wife wrote, Simpson “told me that I had two options: either he shoots me then kill[s] himself or I shoot him and tell the police it was self defense.” 

Baltimore City Councilperson Ryan Dorsey has been calling attention to Simpson’s domestic violence allegations since the cop went viral in January 2020 for attacking a man in a West Baltimore corner store.

Simpson began touching and kissing her while telling her, “stop resisting,” she wrote. Then he tried to perform oral sex on her. “I kept telling him ‘no’ and with his arm on my chest holding his gun, he took off his pants and raped me,” she alleged.

Simpson’s wife was crying. Simpson ordered her to stop crying. On another floor of the house at the time was a young child. 

“He told me to stand up and took my nightgown down again and pushed me on the bed and raped me again, for the second time,” she alleged.

Simpson’s wife eventually left the house with the child. She wrote that Simpson warned her not to call the police.

In the document from March 2010, Simpson’s wife wrote: “even though this incident happened in October 2009 it is my biggest fear that Mr. Welton Simpson Jr. [will] cause bodily harm to me…He has threatened me several times and told me that instead of raping me he should have killed me. I am living in fear because of the unknown of what he can do to me.”

The order also alleges that weeks before he allegedly raped his wife, Simpson closed their bedroom door, stood in front of it, preventing her from leaving, and put a gun to his head. 

Simpson’s wife also alleged that, months after the Oct. 9, 2009 assault, she found a syringe and “a bottle of Succinylcholine chloride injection 200 mg”—a very strong muscle relaxer often used to enable tracheal intubation. 

“I feared that he was going to use this on me,” she wrote. “The warning label on top said it is a paralyzing agent.”

The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office’s “do not call” list includes Simpson and notes that allegations of domestic violence and rape against Simpson were “sustained.” That means an allegation police who investigated believe happened, and violated police policy.

Simpson was not criminally charged and he was not fired by the Baltimore Police Department. He was instead put on desk duty, the lawsuit says: “As a part of the order of protection, Simpson was ordered not to possess a firearm. Instead of terminating Simpson for being unable to fulfill a fundamental requirement of policing, BPD placed him in administrative duty during the duration of the order, then allowed him to return to street duty without scrutiny.” 

“On the one hand, police departments hold up their members as heroic, a cut above the rest, extraordinary individuals. On the other hand they demonstrate that officers are held to a lower standard than anybody else, allowing general character and job performance to go unchecked until a high-profile crime is committed.”

Baltimore City Councilperson Ryan Dorsey

Baltimore City Councilperson Ryan Dorsey has been calling attention to Simpson’s domestic violence allegations since the cop went viral in January 2020 for attacking a man in a West Baltimore corner store. Shortly after Simpson was identified as the cop in the video attacking someone, Dorsey said “an acquaintance” encouraged him to locate and read the protective order from a decade earlier. The police were aware of that protective order back then, Dorsey stressed.

“On the one hand, police departments hold up their members as heroic, a cut above the rest, extraordinary individuals. On the other hand they demonstrate that officers are held to a lower standard than anybody else, allowing general character and job performance to go unchecked until a high-profile crime is committed,” Dorsey told Battleground Baltimore. “In hindsight, it seems like any reasonable person equipped with the available information about Simpson should have expected what eventually transpired [in January 2020].”

January 2020

The federal civil rights lawsuit against Simpson filed earlier this month demands damages of at least $75,000 related to the January 2020 incident where Simpson entered a corner store in West Baltimore and, after some arguing and shoving, took 23 year-old Zayne Abdullah to the ground using a mixed martial arts move (Simpson was briefly, a local MMA fighter).

Cell phone video of Simpson attacking Abdullah went viral and quickly became a reason for cops and elected officials to bemoan the city’s out-of-control citizenry. In their eyes, it exemplified how difficult it is to be a cop in Baltimore—because all they saw was Abdullah and others fighting with Simpson.

Simpson suggested he was attacked first. He also claimed Abdullah spit on him. Body camera footage showed what really happened. Simpson shoved Abdullah, cursed at him (“Get the fuck out my face”), and eventually tackled him and put him in a chokehold Baltimore Police said was “prohibited.” At some point, Abdullah, on the ground, said, “I can’t breathe.” There was no apparent de-escalation by Simpson, who instigated and escalated the situation. Footage also showed that Abdullah never spat on Simpson.

“Defendant Simpson assaulted and battered [Abdullah] when he tackled him, forced him to the ground, and forcefully detained him. Defendant Simpson intended to unlawfully invade his physical well-being through harmful or offensive contact,” the lawsuit says.

“Defendant Simpson assaulted and battered [Abdullah] when he tackled him, forced him to the ground, and forcefully detained him. Defendant Simpson intended to unlawfully invade his physical well-being through harmful or offensive contact,” the lawsuit says.

That body camera footage was released by Abdullah’s defense attorneys in July 2020, seven months after the attack. As the lawsuit notes, BPD ignored this body camera footage for months. “Despite being in possession of the body camera footage of Defendant Simpson’s unlawful arrest of [Abdullah],” the lawsuit says, “[Baltimore Police], with deliberate indifference for [Abdullah’s] Constitutional rights, did not review the footage or failed to scrutinize the footage.” 

Abdullah and another man, who is also suing, Donnell Burgess, were both arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.

Once the body camera footage was released in July 2020, Abdullah’s charges were dropped and he was released from jail. Abdullah had been in jail since the arrest in January 2020, which means Abdullah spent the early days of the pandemic in jail. The lawsuit notes that Abdullah also lost his job while he was in jail. “During his term of wrongful incarceration, [Abdullah] lost his job at H&S Bakery where he made more than $17 per hour. Further, H&S placed [Abdullah’s] name on their ‘Do Not Hire’ list for two years because he had just started the job and was still completing his probationary period of employment with the company,” the lawsuit reads. 

In jail, Abdullah also had an epileptic seizure and fell out of his bunk, hurting his back and head.

Simpson was charged by the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office with making a false statement and misconduct. He was convicted on both counts in September 2021. 

“BPD did not abide by the terms of the Consent Decree”

The lawsuit is a damning critique of the Baltimore Police Department’s lack of oversight, and it asks a question many defense attorneys, Councilperson Dorsey, and even some frustrated cops have been asking for years: Given Simpson’s past, including the alleged rape of his wife in 2009, why was he even on the force in 2020?

“In order for the judge to issue the protective order, he had to believe that Simpson not only presented a threat, but that he was likely to do so again. And BPD didn’t consider this a reason Simpson should not be put in a position of power and trust,” Dorsey explained to Battleground Baltimore.

“BPD knew or should have known that… Defendant Simpson proved unfit for [his] assigned duties,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also names a number of Baltimore higher-ups, and notes that the 2020 attack on Abdullah is evidence that “BPD did not abide by the terms of the Consent Decree.” The lawsuit continues: “The rampant violations and cover-ups continued, with officers persistently and repeatedly violating the Constitutional rights of City citizens as late as 2018, 2019, and 2020, with violations that were consistent with or identical to the violations that DOJ previously found that occurred over the course of several years.” 

Battleground Baltimore has recently called attention to leaked documents which highlight a serious lack of police oversight despite claims that the department is changing “post-Freddie Gray.” Baltimore Police Officer Melvin Hill resigned in 2021 after nearly a decade of allegations that included child abuse, sexual misconduct, giving a false statement, and more. Officer Luke Shelley continues to work for BPD despite questionable searches, mishandled evidence, and allegations of “racial profiling.”           

In 2020, Simpson made a salary of $101,941 with overtime at $51,522.54, adding up to a total of $153,463.54 for the year.

Simpson has appealed his conviction for making a false statement and misconduct during the January 2020 incident. He is still a cop, currently assigned to administrative duties. His police powers are suspended.

The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office maintained two lists of problem cops. Simpson is on both of them. He is on the “do not call” list released last year and he is also on the recently-released list of 300-plus officers Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby once said had “credibility issues.”

Brandon Soderberg

Brandon Soderberg is a Baltimore-based writer reporting on guns, drugs, and police corruption. He is the coauthor of I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad. Formerly, he was the editor-in-chief of the Baltimore City Paper. His work has appeared in The Intercept, VICE, The Appeal, and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @notrivia.