(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
On Monday, trial began for two officers indicted in what may be the largest corruption scandal to plague the Baltimore Police Department. As testimonies were heard, it was revealed that officers with Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force stole drugs and cash from suspects, conducted unlawful searches, abused overtime allowances, and kept replica guns to plant in dire situations.
While investigating the overdose of a 19-year-old in Hartford County, authorities learned a crew within the Task Force engaged in corrupt activity. The investigation resulted in the federal indictment of eight officers on racketeering charges, reported the Baltimore Sun.
On January 23, trial began for Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, the two members of the force who have pleaded not guilty.
Detective Maurice Ward, one of the officers who has pleaded guilty, took the stand and detailed the behavior exhibited by himself and his co-defendants, according the Baltimore Sun.
Ward testified his crew’s supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, instructed the officers to carry toy guns to plant if they found themselves in a bind. Ward said the officers kept BB guns in their police cars “in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them.”
The corruption with the officers did not end with planting guns.
In one particular incident, members on the Task Force found a man’s address, went to the home without a warrant and found drugs and money. After finding about $200,000 inside a safe, the officers took $100,000 out, closed the safe back up, then filmed themselves pretending to open it for the first time.
“Nobody touch anything,” Sgt. Jenkins can be heard saying on the video, according to the Baltimore Sun.
On day three of the trial, Former detectives Jemell Rayam, who pleaded guilty, said the officers once recovered a pound and a half of marijuana and a gun, and Jenkins told him to “just get rid of it.” Rayam said he and another officer sold the drugs and gun back onto the street.
Additionally, the officers were rewarded with overtime pay for the guns they took off the street, no matter how they retrieved the weapons.
The trial is expected to last another two or three weeks.
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