An eighth Baltimore police officer has been indicted in this year’s infamous Gun Trace Task Force racketeering conspiracy, and prosecutors say this one was in charge of the entire team for several years.
Sgt. Thomas Allers, a 21-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, was arrested today and charged with nine counts of robbery and extortion. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Allers was in charge of the same plainclothes policing unit that included the seven other police officers indicted on racketeering charges in March. He was the head of the task force from July 2013 to June 2016. Prosecutors allege they worked together to rob suspects and, in some cases, people who never even committed crimes, of tens of thousands of dollars. Individually, they were also accused of stealing overtime, selling drugs and helping suspects in a drug conspiracy case to escape, among other offenses.
Allers’ alleged thievery is well-documented in an indictment unsealed today. In one incident in April 2015, he and others searched a house and found $6,000, which the homeowners had made in an honest fashion by buying and selling used cars, and collecting a tax refund. Allers and company stole all but $300, then lied in an incident report by saying they only seized $233, according to prosecutors.
Another example suggests Allers may have blood on his hands. Prosecutors say he and the other cops searched a suspect’s house and stole $10,000 in April 2016. After arresting the man, they reported no money was seized. Afterward, one of the home’s occupants was shot and killed for being unable to repay a drug-related debt. Allers was reassigned a little over two weeks later.
All in all, he’s accused of stealing $90,000 from suspects and local residents between 2014 and 2016.
A lot of this looks much worse, of course, because it happened while the Baltimore Police Department was under federal scrutiny following the in-custody death of Freddie Gray in April 2015. Police are now working to reform their practices from the inside out under federal court order. The U.S. Justice Department’s investigative report cited unconstitutional stops and seizures as a primary problem within the department.
“The Baltimore Police Department remains dedicated to constitutional policing,” Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement today. “I condemn any and all criminal activity that erodes our trust with the community.”
Davis touted the department’s membership in the FBI’s Public Corruption Task Force, saying it “ensures that police officers that commit criminal misconduct will face the certainty of accountability.”
Allers has made the news before. He was placed on administrative duty during his first year on the job after shooting and killing a suspect during an investigation, according to a 1997 Baltimore Sun report. Police said the suspect, 40-year-old Nelson West, had stabbed two women inside a row house, and lunged at Allers when he entered the home with his gun drawn. Allers had been on the job for nine months.
His indictment arrives as the Baltimore Police Department faces heightened scrutiny for a series of controversial body camera videos. Two of them appeared to show officers planting drugs on suspects or, as Davis has suggested, “re-enacting” evidence discovery. A third showed an officer picking up drug evidence, putting it back down upon realizing his body camera wasn’t turned on, and then picking it back up again.
Davis has defended his officers and lashed back at assumptions that they’ve committing acts of misconduct. City prosecutors, meanwhile, have been forced to drop more than 150 cases tied to the officers in the videos, citing concerns about their testimony holding up in court.
Even before Allers’ arrest today, prosecutors had dropped hundreds of cases tied to the seven Gun Trace Task Force officers. More will likely follow.
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