“It makes me bitter, because it f—ed my life up.”
So says one of the victims of the Gun Trace Task Force, a rogue Baltimore Police Department unit that was federally indicted in 2017 and charged with robbing citizens, dealing drugs, planting evidence, overtime fraud and other misconduct.
Six of the officers–ringleader Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, Sgt. Thomas Allers, Momudo Gondo, Maurice Ward, Jemell Rayam and Evodio Hendrix–pleaded guilty to federal charges of corruption, racketeering, robbery and other crimes.
Two former detectives, Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, took their cases to trial and were eventually convicted.
The victim’s words come from a trailer for “I Got a Monster,” a forthcoming book by local journalists Brandon Soderberg and Baynard Woods that digs deep into the “rise and fall of America’s most corrupt police squad.” (Full disclosure: Soderberg and Woods are both friends of mine and we all worked together at City Paper.)
Footage in the trailer includes news clips; interviews with Gun Trace Task Force victims, defense attorney Ivan Bates, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, Soderberg and Woods, and others that are part of a to-be-released documentary about the case; and body-worn camera footage from the GTTF’s own crimes.
Watch it below:
As Woods says in the trailer, the unit used its mission to get guns off Baltimore’s streets to prey on the “voiceless.”
“They targeted people who had records, people who are on probation, people they thought were drug dealers and they thought wouldn’t make complaints,” he says.
“Monster” was the code name for a potential target.
The trailer captures the scale of the scandal, showing pictures of the masks, outfits and equipment the GTTF used to commit robberies, and leaves one still wondering, several years after the indictments, how this unit was allowed to go unchecked for so long.
“I Got a Monster” is due out July 21 on St. Martin’s Press.
In a blurb, local writer D. Watkins praised the authors’ on-the-ground reporting and said the book forces readers “to see that the ‘few bad apples’ theory is a myth.”
Or, as Dave Zirin of The Nation puts it, “‘The Wire’ is a Mother Goose fairytale compared to the stories revealed by Soderberg and Woods.”
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