As new allegations arise against the now notorious Gun Trace Task Force, Baltimore residents share tales of false arrest, robbery, and a failure to heed warnings about the unit’s criminal behavior
SPEAKER: It was unfair. It was tormenting to be able to, to have to go through that.
TAYA GRAHAM: The fall out over the brazen corruption by members of the Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force continued to unfold today.
SPEAKER: Of course, I was a victim of this corruption in the city. When this occurred, I was took away from my family for three days and within those three days I lost my three year old son.
TAYA GRAHAM: As more victims of the unit, which as pled guilty to drug dealing, robbing residents and stealing overtime shared their side of their encounter with these officers.
SPEAKER: I was fearful for my kid’s life. I’m glad I did so, because I had no idea what was going to happen when they came in the house. And I hear other people’s stories about how they may have been beat up or abused and that wasn’t the case. But at the same time, it was still hard to go through to endure the torment of going back and forth to court.
TAYA GRAHAM: Voices that have been missing from the story of how the unit ruthlessly preyed upon residents.
SPEAKER: Since this happened, people done walked up to me and told me stories about where as though, basically last night, a guy said in ’09 they came to his house and robbed him, took him to his place of business, had him tied up. They had other things from different units. It’s like they worship, I mean, like the mob. They so vicious.
TAYA GRAHAM: Ivan Bates, a criminal defense attorney who organized the press conference criticized the state’s attorney’s office for allowing cases where the GTTF officers were witnesses to move forward.
IVAN BATES: The officers of that Gun Trace Task Force, I can’t even call them officers because real officers don’t act like they did. They’re criminals, they violated the constitutional rights of these people.
TAYA GRAHAM: Lax oversight, which another attorney says forced her clients into court for crimes they didn’t commit.
SPEAKER: The defense bar knew about it, and so the defense bar is going to court and they’re asking for the I.D. files for these officers. They’re not just being fought by the police department’s attorney, who is there to protect the personnel records and to make sure that things are done according to the law, we get it. We can respect it. They’re being fought by the state’s attorney. One of the deputy state’s attorney in the office shows up in court and fights for these officers.
TAYA GRAHAM: Bate’s finger pointing at Marilyn Mosby raised questions about his political ambitions.
SPEAKER: And in running for the office, there are going to be some who are going to say, “He’s using this,” to basically help boost his campaign. I know that this is a serious issue. I need you to talk about that.
SPEAKER: We have to sit down and look, and stop protecting the dirty police officer because if the officers, who are now criminals, have said they violated people’s rights. They lied. They did those types of actions. Why should these individuals who may have pled guilty just to have an opportunity to go home, why should they still have that scarlet letter?
TAYA GRAHAM: When we asked Moseby’s office for comment, she said that she continues to hold police accountable including a recent indictment of tampering with evidence against a cop caught on body camera, staging the discovery of evidence. Interestingly, crimes of the Gun Trace Task Force has elicited few comments from City Hall. When we asked the Mayor this week about allegations of widespread overtime theft, she offered a few words.
STEPHEN JANIS: There’s a lot of allegations that come out of the Gun Trace Task Force trial about overtime…including testimony that city and police can file 100 hours worth of over time… that officers are getting overtime for guns, that officers are getting overtime without showing up. How do we respond to that given the city’s difficult situation?
CATHERINE PUGH: So, you do know that we’re currently auditing overtime?
STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah, but we haven’t seen it.
CATHERINE PUGH: Yeah, I haven’t either because it’s not complete yet. As soon as it’s complete, you’ll see it as I will see it. I haven’t seen it yet. It’s not done.
STEPHEN JANIS: Do you believe Kevin Davis knew about this?
CATHERINE PUGH: I don’t know that they called Kevin Davis by name.
STEPHEN JANIS: They did.
CATHERINE PUGH: Well, again-
STEPHEN JANIS: They said that he knew…overtime. Do you support that kind of overtime?
CATHERINE PUGH: I don’t support, first of all, we are auditing overtime. That’s exactly what we’re doing. Every week we meet with our police department through Comstat and we have a focus on reducing overtime.
TAYA GRAHAM: But beyond the politics, it was the personal tales of horror that put a face to the crimes.
SPEAKER: It’s bigger than the charge they put on me. The mark that they put on my record, the cash that was took, all of that was, it doesn’t matter because I wasn’t there to spend the last moments of my son’s life with him.
TAYA GRAHAM: Stories that reveal just how much damage Baltimore Police have caused in a community that can least afford it.
SPEAKER: The thing that y’all think y’all saying and you think is open, this is not it. This is totally not nowhere, not the beginning. It’s the beginning, but what we gonna do for now? Things gotta change.
TAYA GRAHAM: This is Taya Graham and Stephen Janis, reporting for The Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.