On March 6, 2009, Det. Jemell Rayam shot Shawn Cannady at point blank range as he sat in his Lexus in an alley in Park Heights.
“Fuck him, I just don’t wanna chase him,” Rayam explained later on, according to Momodu Gondo, Rayam’s long-time partner, in his testimony Monday in federal court at the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) corruption trial.
Cannady died two days after the shooting. At the time, police said that Rayam, who had previously shot two people in 2007, shot Cannady in order to keep him from running over Officer Jason Giordano, but according to Gondo that story was concocted by Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere, who “coached everyone about what to say.”
Palmere, the highest-ranking official to be directly implicated in the corruption of the officers indicted with GTTF, announced his retirement almost immediately after the testimony and denied the allegations.
“It’s not true. I would not coach somebody,” Palmere told the Sun. “I’ve always taken pride in my ethics and integrity.”
Cannady’s family received a $100,000 settlement in 2013 for Cannady’s death.
In court, even Gondo, one of the most notorious members of the squad, who has pleaded guilty to helping a childhood friend-turned-drug dealer in another federal case and who Rayam had said once “laid someone out,” seemed disturbed by the case.
“You knew Rayam had murdered somebody?” Christopher Nieto, the attorney for Marcus Taylor, one of the two members of the GTTF to maintain his innocence and stand trial for various racketeering charges, asked Gondo. Nieto referred to transcripts from proffer interviews between Gondo and federal agents, where he recounted a conversation.
“You murdered that guy,” Gondo reportedly said to Rayam in conversations long after the event.
“Yeah I did,” Rayam said according to the notes Nieto was reading.
Gondo seemed resigned to the corruption when he told Nieto why he didn’t say anything about the “murder” to Internal Affairs.
“If you’re in my shoes, if that’s what has happened,” Gondo said. “What’s gonna happen to me?”
The answer echoed a similar answer to the question that has haunted all of the officers at the trial: Why did they follow Sgt. Wayne Jenkins—who it was revealed today is not cooperating with the investigation—as he perpetrated a reign of terror on the citizens of the city they were all sworn to serve and protect?
“Wayne brought a whole different dynamic to the gun unit,” Gondo said.
Still, Gondo confessed earlier in the day that he had stolen money with other officers long before joining the GTTF. He named several detectives with whom he stole money, including Giordano (who was investigated for the 2011 theft that Rayam admitted to being involved in when he took the stand last week) and Det. Sean Suiter, who was murdered the day before he was to testify to the grand jury about the case on Nov. 15.
Suiter was set to testify about the case of Umar Burley, which began in 2010 when Suiter, Jenkins, and Det. Ryan Guinn—who was named for a second time Monday as the person who tipped off the GTTF members that they were being investigated. A member of the State’s Attorney’s Office and someone working in police Internal Affairs also tipped off GTTF.
But, while he was on the streets, Gondo was not afraid of IAD, he testified. “It was part of the culture,” he said. “I wasn’t out there getting complaints—putting my hands on people.”
That answer came about after Gondo was asked whether he was worried that Daniel Hersl was an informant when he first joined the GTTF. But Gondo said he trusted Hersl because of his reputation, and the suspicion simply arose from Hersl being new to the unit.
“Dan was banned from the whole Eastern District when he got to our squad from complaints,” Gondo said. “Dan had a history.”
And in the twisted world of the GTTF, that meant Gondo and the others could trust him.