City prosecutors now say they have to drop 125 court cases tainted by the indictments or guilty pleas of eight Baltimore cops who spent years robbing suspects and civilians, selling stolen drugs and guns and falsifying hours.
The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office released its newest tally yesterday, with numbers updated as of Nov. 22. A total of 277 cases have been or will be impacted by the bust of the Gun Trace Task Force, a plainclothes Baltimore Police Department unit that was entrusted with tracing gunfire on city streets, but allegedly went rogue and ran its own racketeering ring, collaborated with drug dealers and even sold contraband across state lines.
Four of the eight officers have pleaded guilty so far. Affected cases include ones in which any of the eight were the arresting officers on the scene or served as key witnesses to charge or convict defendants.
Among that total of 277, nearly half have been or will have to be nol prossed, which is legal slang for “nolle prosequi,” in which prosecutors discontinue a case. Another 71 cases are currently under review. Thirty-two already-concluded cases are still viable enough for their rulings to stay, according to the state’s attorney’s office.
Among active cases, only four remain solid enough to pursue prosecution.
The newest tally of 125 dropped cases marks a bump from the last count from State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Prosecutors released the newest figures on Monday, three days after the U.S. Justice Department slapped two new charges against Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, one of the eight officers, for allegedly planting heroin on two arrestees in 2010.
“Public trust is essential to the success of the criminal justice system and our ability to effectively prosecute crime,” Mosby said in a statement, “We will do our part to minimize any erosion to this trust and remain vigilant in our pursuit of justice.”
The Office of the Public Defender jumped on the news of the newest indictment against Jenkins, which most infamously involved Det. Sean Suiter, who police say was set up to discover the planted drugs as the arresting officer in 2010. Suiter was killed on the job last month, the night before he was set to testify against Jenkins in court.
“The extent of criminal activity conducted by BPD officers on duty over many years is shocking,” said Debbie Katz Levi, head of the OPD’s Special Litigation Section, in a statement. “We need massive culture change in the Department and urgent attention must be given to the citizens who have been charged and convicted based on the alleged observations of these officers.”
The OPD says 75 people’s charges have been dropped or reversed because of the indicted officers’ involvement.
Mosby’s office also updated its count of cases tainted by this year’s infamous Baltimore police body-camera video scandals. Footage from officers’ own devices in separate instances appeared to show them planting drugs on suspects or, at best, manipulating their discovery of evidence to ensure it had been captured on-camera.
Prosecutors have postponed, dropped or plan to drop 266 criminal cases thanks to the involvement of body-cam-scandal-connected officers. Another 32 closed cases are being reviewed.
The third set of footage, which displayed an officer in June re-discovering drugs he’d already found in order to document his find on body camera video, had the least damaging effect on active prosecutions. The state’s attorney’s office says it will still pursue convictions in 21 of those 24 cases.
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