Two detectives in Baltimore have been found guilty on charges of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and robbery. The verdict simply confirms what has already been common knowledge about the corrupt Baltimore Police Department, a problem detailed by a Justice Department report in 2016.
Daniel T. Hersl and Marcus R. Taylor were both members of the Gun Trace Task Force, a now defunct arm of the police department whose members were known for being corrupt.
According to the Baltimore Sun: “In a case where the officers’ victims were black men, the jury of mostly white women elected a young black man to deliver the verdict.”
GTTF detectives performed illegal searches in homes and vehicles; pulled over what a sergeant called “dope boy cars” without probable cause; stole guns, money and drugs seized illegally from suspects; and sold stolen paraphernalia back on the streets. And officers carried BB guns in case they found themselves in a sticky situation and needed to plant a weapon.
According to the Washington Post, Steve Hersl, brother of Daniel Hersl, said his brother did not “deserve this. Let’s talk about the corruption that starts at the top.”
That was discussed as well. Much of the fraud that took place came at the direction of the officers’ supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins. Jenkins, along with a few other officers, had already pleaded guilty.
Jenkins had a name for people who likely had a lot the officers could steal: a “monster.”
Officers carried bags with masks, black clothes and various tools “in case [an officer] ran into a ‘monster,’” or a person with a lot of drugs and money, one former detective testified.
The six men who pleaded guilty were all fired, and interim Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa announced that Hersl and Taylor will be terminated as well. They had been on unpaid leave since March. The officers who pleaded guilty face sentences between 20 and 40 years.
The then-detectives picked their victims knowing that their word would be taken over that of someone accused of dealing drugs. The Associated Press reported that Hersl and Taylor’s defense teams tried to continue this strategy even in the courtroom.
“The defense teams for Hersl and Taylor had asked jurors to distrust the motivations of the government’s witnesses, including a number of convicted drug dealers who received immunity for their testimony in the case.
“[Acting U.S. Attorney General Stephen] Schenning said he was thankful the jurors saw through that.
“’That was the business model for this organization: They thought if you rob drug dealers they have no place to go,’ he said.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise also noted that the victims were not the ones on trial. Whether they were “selling drugs or Girl Scout cookies” should hold no bearing on the outcome for the officers, Wise said.
Wise previously called the officers “cops and robbers at the same time.”
Early last year, Baltimore reached a reform deal with the DOJ. But the Trump administration tried to put a stop to police reform. U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III later ordered a review of previous police reform agreements. The DOJ requested a 90-day delay in a hearing for the reform, but the judge shot it down.