Baltimore Sun Cowers in the Shadows of Fear as Abolishing Police Effort Sees Daylight

BALTIMORE – A defund police movement is kicking up dust across the country and an argument can certainly be made that the Baltimore Sun is feverishly busy sweeping the efforts under the rug.

This indeed is that argument.

What you call a thing matters. Journalists of any consequence know that. Some see an uprising that could lead to a revolt as a pathway to freedom. Others may see a riot that could result in a rebellion as a gateway to regime change – their regime.

defund the police street art
Artist @drew_koritzer posted on Twitter by @OrganizingBlack and supported by @DMVBlackLives, @byp100

A lot depends on one’s views on oppression. Regrettably, in a June 8, 2020 commentary, the Sun’s editorial stance reveals itself again to be on the wrong side of history with Black Baltimore and it is done at a time when it matters the most to all of the city’s citizens.

Baltimore’s deeply rooted racism

Baltimore City has a long history with what some today might call  “both sidesism.” Back in the mid 1800s  when the nation was struggling with how to proceed with demands to abolish slavery, the City’s economic and political leaders instead aligned itself with plantation owners of the south.  However, the Governor assured President Abraham Lincoln of Maryland’s allegiance to the Union’s cause.

Predictably heavily pro Confederate members of the Maryland State Assembly were arrested to thwart an insurrection.  This move merely forced southern sympathizers into hiding.  Is recent as May 2020, pamphlets and recruitment into Ku Klux Klan (KKK) espousing white supremacy are still commonplace in Maryland.

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If Baltimore’s elite class had its way, there wouldn’t even had been a president Lincoln.  A thwarted plot to assassinate the president-elect as he traveled through the state on his way to his first inauguration is a story of legend.

Fast forward 160 years. Again we have a climbing crescendo of calls for local politicians to see an immoral institution as antiquated.  States are choosing to re-imagine public safety and policing in way that excludes the existence of the Baltimore Police department.

Where the Sun stands

Staying with the devil they know, The Sun has decided that there are indeed good people on both sides of #AbolishPolice efforts.  It returns to surface the old axiom that the “bad apples” within the department are resistant to submersion.

Are the police really that irredeemable, or are there just some bad apples that need to be sorted out? Maybe, maybe not. But at its heart, the defund movement isn’t really about getting rid of police entirely.” – Baltimore Sun Editorial May 8, 2020

 

It may help to think of the editorial board as the restaurant managers who decide on the décor, select the vendors, approve the menu, set work schedules. And then think of the reporters as the cooks in the kitchen. This perhaps helps to place its editorial in perspective.

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Two weeks after the George Floyd video that shocked the consciousness of most Americans went viral, the Sun’s editorial staff gave us a glimpse into whether it was shaping up to be a fine dining or an earnest family style establishment.

What we got was neither. With the Sun, we were forced fed the predictable greasy spoon diner fare commonly served up for the regulars who show up for the paper since segregation was legal and are known by name.

Since May 25th when 46 year old Floyd gasped his last breath under the weight of a knee to the back of his neck by an officer on a Minneapolis city sidewalk – up  until the editorial was published on June 8th, Baltimore had 11 straight days of protests in the street.

Proof corporations are not people

While organizers were busy lobbing tear gas canisters back at police, the owners of the Sun (and the Chicago Tribune) were reinforcing its blockade. Owners of both papers, Tribune Publishing, have called for more policing while reducing the demands to #AbolishPolice to be “ardent police critics, those who see the roots of modern policing in the practice of hunting down escaped slaves,” write the Sun editorial staff.

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In a June 10th editorial, the Chicago Tribune referenced its own Freddie Gray policing nightmare, the shooting death of 17 year old Laquan McDonald in 2014.  After an alleged  years-long cover up Chicago’s entered into its own federal Consent Decree in 2017  dictating ways to reform.

If only the Tribune Co’s editorial staff objectively read its own papers, they would see evidence of systemic racism in its very midst.

Resting on the idea that police are able to reform itself as the magic elixir is extremely unnerving especially to the over-policed communities they cover. Corporate ownership of news outlets has permitted business interests to usurp public accountability and shape a narrative that’s out of sync with the nation’s consciousness.

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A local paper in Minneapolis, MN warned caution against the defund police movement as well. The Star Tribune, owned by local businessman Glen Taylor echoed his city’s business leaders in saying getting rid of crime fighters will not eliminate crime. There’s not enough space in the entire cyber-sphere to adequately respond to that reasoning.  Suffice it to say – if only police were crime fighters, then it would be a discussion worth having.

This national moment of reckoning about police practices is rightly giving new momentum to overdue reform efforts. George Floyd’s death moved Americans to say “enough” and demand change. It should come soon. – Star Tribune Editorial June 10, 2020

Predictably, the Sun is waiting to see if the blue coats or if the grey coats capture the flag of this country’s moral future.  If Black lives are ever to matter in Baltimore, we can’t wait for  editorial staff sit on the sideline to see how another state fares.  “We would like to see how Minneapolis and other cities fare with their approaches,” wrote the Editorial staff.

The editorial team of all three papers are prepared to take a wait and see approach. They rest comfortably while their cooks/reporters and photographers scurry back and forth attempting to make palatable what the public can no longer digest.

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Consent decrees bridge activists and police to a road to nowhere

Be wary of those who grasp desperately onto the promise of police reform because it will create yet another black hole where exorbitant consultant fees and federal funds quickly disappear.

In May of this year, Seattle, WA asked to be removed from the constraints of its 2012 consent decree claiming it to be in full compliance with reform mandates.  The mission accomplished banner seems to be tarnished in wake of the national #disbandPolice movement.

Seattle protesters against police abuses created a law enforcement free “autonomous zone” called either CHAZ or CHOP after commandeering a local precinct building. The federal judge was expected to rule in August on the city’s request to come up from under its consent decree.

The recent events of Seattle show that “police reform” should no longer be on the menu. Nevertheless, the Sun editorial state reveals its stance that “There’s an urgency to addressing police misconduct and criminal justice disparities … but not necessarily to fundamentally changing course [emphasis added].” 

Resort to gaslighting when reason fails

Reform advocates are on one end of the spectrum while those who view defunding as an essential first step towards abolishing police is on another. Anybody who tells you differently is gaslighting you.

Baltimore Sun seems adamant in explaining that both people in reality are asking for the same thing.

A head chef/crime reporter, Justin Fenton, shocked the world in a June 19th article, when he wrote” The calls [to defund] mean different things to different people. Some organizations pushing for police reform want fewer resources for police and more money for the community.” He recognized a leader in the abolitionist movement is the People’s Power Assembly, something the editorial left out.

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A day after the City’s largest march, lead by Baltimore’s youth on June 1, it was made clear what the unifying demands were for the thousands who canvassed Baltimore’s streets.

“We are not calling for police reform. We are calling for police abolition. We understand that the police establishment as a whole is too corrupt for reform, therefore we are calling for a complete restructuring of the system.” – from The Youth June 2, 2020

Is the corporate media giant, respective editorial staff, and select reporters each taking turns gaslighting the rest of the nation? No.

Many of journalism’s stalwarts, much like most police departments, are institutional relics fervently resistant to change.  Both entrepreneur David Troy (in a 2016  editorial)  and Maryland Delegate Bilal Ali (in a 2018 letter to then Mayor Catherine Pugh) proposed disbanding the department.

They did so in the wake of very public corruption scandals proposing that reforming a culture of covering up criminality isn’t in the best interest of those victimized by BPD.

“I propose that this 150-year experiment be swiftly ended. Let’s shut down the Baltimore Police Department as it exists in its current form and create a new agency that is empowered and properly constituted to meet all constitutional and legal requirements as set forth by the DOJ from its inception. ” – David Troy, 2016 Baltimore Sun

In a supreme act of gaslighting, the Sun’s editorial sought to shove down our throats the mightiest of comfort food when it wrote: “Frankly, police departments were already headed toward defunding.”  Surely the Sun isn’t suggesting that without the direct action of burning down precincts – we would have gotten here eventually anyways? Riiiight.

The Sun’s editorial brain trust didn’t mention the years of work and ideas put forth by the likes of Troy, Ali, PPA, The Youth, or ACLU.  Instead it awarded a defacto defunding of Law Enforcement to (wait for it) the resume of President Donald Trump.   The Sun viewed his mishandling of the COVID19 pandemic as akin to an unintended consequence that pushed municipalities toward “lean times” that will affect police budgets – thus defund them.

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The degree of mental gymnastics the board performed to arrive at thank Trump for defunding police is a marvel yet to be paralleled.

One can only surmise that the Sun is trying to tell its readership that the thing that they see (a demand to upend Baltimore Police)  isn’t  the thing that they fear – an effort to dismantle White Supremacy.

An unexamined editorial position is not one worth having. Whether this argument stands that the Sun is cowering from the light that oppressive policing is no longer palatable will be known soon enough.

Soon the recently racially diverse editorial staff will likely to take a stance on upcoming issues ripe for gaslighting: the city’s budget priorities, the presidential debates, the ongoing failures of the consent decree and the leadership of  Commissioner Michael Harrison.  I’ll be right here waiting, sort of.

Lincoln had it right.  Maybe the way to challenge the system is to put on a disguise, and make only clandestine  trips through Baltimore.

 

BPD and the Art of Planting Evidence: Sean Suiter and the GTTF

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BWC video discovered by a defense attorney captured BPD officer Richard Pinheiro Jr in January 2017 fabricating evidence, a judged found him guilty in a Nov 2018 trial. Staging crime scenes turns out is not a fire-able offense. ScreenGrab CBS Evening News

Pinpointing when the culture of deceit took hold within the halls of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) is not a puzzle worth solving.   Somewhere along the way the department lost all credibility, any moral authority and, at times, even its legitimacy.

No clearer example of BPD’s downfall was when Det Sean Suiter, barely hanging on to life, was transported from the intersection of Bennett Place and Schroeder Street the afternoon of November 15, 2017.  It was that day that the ugliness the city shied away from was thrust squarely in peoples’ faces so no one could continue to ignore the obvious.

Part II : Sean Suiter was accused of unknowingly planting evidence with GTTF; BPD’s coordinated a suppression of liberty and freedoms with aid of a complicit media in the week-long lockdown of Harlem Park.

Rewind the clock back eight months from Suiter’s death to the arrest of seven dirty BPD officers linked to the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF). From March 1, 2017 a series of unfortunate events lead Suiter to Bennett Place reliving a single city block’s horrid history of violence, condemnation, and isolation.

Spring 2017

While in a county holding facility awaiting trial, unit supervisor and ex U.S. Marine Sgt Wayne Jenkins encouraged all members of his unit arrested to maintain their silence.  All had plead not guilty to a variety of RICO charges.

It would be a waiting game of who would crack first. Spoiler: Jenkins was sentenced to 25 years and did not testify.

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Former PC Kevin Davis awarded Wayne Jenkins in 2016 for his heroic efforts during the 2015 uprising – yep the same time he was cashing in on looted pharmaceutical drugs.

July 6, 2017

Additional robbery charges  were levied in a superseding indictment against Jenkins along with Danny Hersl and Marcus Taylor.

July 21, 2017

The blue line of silence snapped when two GTTF officers, Evodio Hendrix and Maurice Ward, plead guilty and agreed to be government witnesses.  Ultimately their sentences of seven years would be the lightest.

Note: Hendrix’s testimony was the most credible. Ward, the first to testify, came across highly intelligent, yet extremely manipulative and opportunistic.

August 22, 2017

On the 900 block of Bennett Place, a 15-year old boy was shot numerous times and died from his injuries.  Police made an arrest in the murder of the teen, Jeffrey Quick but charges were dropped as Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office was crippled by discredited officers and tainted evidence.

August 30, 2017

The eighth GTTF member is indicted, Sgt Thomas Allers.

It was clear to anyone watching that Hendrix, Ward, Rayam and Gondo were cooperating.  Panic had to be setting in for not just the corrupt officers, but those who were protecting them. Allers was sentenced to 15 years.

Escape Routes for Jenkins and His Protectors Closed

Jenkins was known to tell officers who worked in his crew some parts while telling other people in the unit different aspects of his criminal activity.  Hendrix and Ward were in the dirt of GTTF up to their chins, but they didn’t know where the bodies were buried. Feds picked the lowest hanging fruit first.

As long as Gondo and Rayam kept quiet, then Jenkins stood a chance. Hersl and Taylor taking a shot at a jury, proved their checkers game was no match with such high stakes.

September 2017

BPD’s Western District Action Team raided two Heritage Crossing residences, a five minute walk from 900 block of Bennett Place and made two arrests with great fanfare. Officer Zachary Novak, infamous for being with the officers who arrested Freddie Gray, was listed as one of the arresting officers in the raids near Bennett Place just before Sean Suiter was murdered.

Novak seemed to be everywhere and no where as Freddie Gray’s limp body finally arrived at Western District HQ in April 2015, along with another passenger who would give varied accounts of what he heard and saw riding with Gray.

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As of this writing, Damien Cook, is still a housed in the Maryland Department of Correction.  Byron Harris was released the week of his arrest.

October 5, 2017

Kenneth Maddox, 45, was arrested and charged with the shooting death of the teenager Jeffrey Quick by a long list of BPD homicide detectives, including David Bomenka.

October 11, 2017

GTTF officer Momodu  Gondo plead guilty to protecting a heroin ring operated in Baltimore along with criminal conspiracy charges that involved Wayne Jenkins.  Two days prior, on Tuesday October 9, GTTFer Jemell Rayam plead guilty to similar racketeering charges.  Both greed to cooperate and expose crimes within BPD.  Gondo received a 10 year sentence to Rayam got 2.

Only a few chess pieces remained on the board.  Sgts Wayne Jenkins and Thomas Allers had maintained their innocence, along with Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor and the feds prepared for trial.

Suiter Lawyers Up to Cooperate With the Feds

October 24, 2017

Suiter declined the FBI’s request for an interview on the GTTF.  This would lead them to issue a subpoena for him to testify on November 16, 2017.

It’s likely Sean Suiter took whatever he knew about the corruption within BPD to his grave. He was likely going to implicate those involved in framing two men in the death of 86 year old Elbert Davis in April 2010.

Umar Bradley went to prison on the word of members of the GTTF unit who claimed Sean Suiter found drugs in the car he was driving at the end of a high speed chase in Park Heights. He was also convicted of manslaughter because while Jenkins was chasing him, Bradley crashed into a car driven by an elderly couple (the parents of BPD officers no less).

The wrongful conviction of Bradley and his passenger Brent Mathews threatened to expose a higher echelon of criminals working within BPD. Both Sgt. Ryan Guinn and Sgt Keith Gladstone were implicated in the cover up.

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Keith Gladstone outside federal courthouse in May 2019 after pleading guilty to bringing the gun and drugs to the scene used to set up Bradley and Mathews.

Tuesday November 14, 2017

Sean Suiter and Bomenka spent the day investigating leads on Suiter’s the triple murder cold case from December 2016. It was unusual for Suiter to pair up with Bomenka.

Wednesday November 15, 2017

Bomenka and Suiter again spent the entire day together and as their shift was coming to a close, Suiter was fatally shot. His body was recovered on a vacant lot off the 900 block of Bennett Place close to Schroeder St. Witnesses heard about four total shots.

Patrol officers arrived and loaded Suiter into a car.  Leaving the scene, they backed into another patrol car for that day’s first accident.  En route to the hospital the car with Suiter was in an accident with yet another patrol car at the intersection of Martin Luther King Blvd and Baltimore St.

Suiter is moved again to an ambulance that was at the intersection. Bomenka stayed at the scene on Bennett Place.

Countless and undocumented law enforcement officers and notable political figures converged on the scene that night and over the course of the days that followed. The scene was a free-for-all, except media was excluded.

Thursday November 16, 2017

Sean Suiter’s name was released to the public and his death announced. Police gave Bomenka’s description of a person of interest: a black man wearing a black jacket with a white stripe.  PC Kevin Davis said the suspect could be injured as Suiter was shot after a brief struggle.

The narrative was shaped that he was shot with his own gun, which has never been proven.

Baltimore police expanded the perimeter of the crime scene from the block where Suiter’s body was recovered to include an indeterminate number of city square blocks clear up to Gilmor Homes where Freddie Gray was chased and arrested.

Media was also barred from the scene. The shield of secrecy would extend into the daylight hours.

November 17, 2017

The media black out continued and cops took to writing and handing out passes that allowed Harlem Park residents to get into their homes after working or running errands.

WANTED: Eyes and Ears On The Ground

The corner store owner filed a lawsuit against BPD claiming that the department took and destroyed his cameras. The stalwart known for posting wanted signs and cooperating with BPD to halt criminal activity around Bennett Place no longer had footage that included the Suiter.

BPD has never addressed what, if anything, was captured on the store’s cameras that covered Fremont Ave and the community of Heritage Crossing.

Also shielded from public view and scrutiny were the body worn cameras (BWC) of officers involved in locking down the expanded perimeter of Harlem Park for over a week. IRB provided still photos of BWC captured by officers as patrol cars arrived in response to a 911 call, which was also not made public.

The day after the ACLU complained of violations by cordoning off large city blocks and required residents to show ID in order to enter and exit their neighborhoods, BPD relented and pulled back its expansive perimeter, but maintained security around the vacant lot.

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November 22, 2017

Not unlike Pinheiro’s “discovery” of drugs earlier in the year (in a Barney Fife imitation), BPD’s homicide unit also got into the act. The perimeter was pulled back just long enough for  WBAL to film the “discovery” of the kill bullet, buried in dirt – seven full days after a slew of investigators combed the area.  Surprisingly no other bullets were found. It’s like the casings fell out of thin air.

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Lambasted by the IRB report that a crime scene tech wasn’t searching for the errant bullet, a homicide detective acts out the discovery in the few hours that the cordon was removed before it was reinstated. ScreenGrab David Collins WBAL TV Twitter

Frustrations grew over the lockdown.  Police stopped asking people for help finding  the black man wearing the black jacket. Restricted movement remained in the occupied territory of Harlem Park. 

Late afternoon on the day before Thanksgiving, PC Kevin Davis called a press conference and announced Suiter was shot the day before he was scheduled to testify in the highly publicized GTTF case.

The city gasped. Finally a potential motive.

No one had publicly connected Suiter to Jenkins’ crew until this bombshell news. A motive for BPD’s lockdown might have been to pre-emptively thwart rising public discontent over the extent of BPD corruption still not addressed from Freddie Gray’s murder investigation. While the Consent Decree monitoring team and the ACLU both have called for one, no investigation into the police state created in Harlem Park has occurred.

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Up Next

Part III: Whispers of suicide in BPD’s bought and paid for panel of independent experts reviewing the agency’s investigation of Suiter’s death and the unraveling of the IRB report

 

 

A Chronicle of Indifference: Blood Spilled on Baltimore’s Bennett Place

PROLOGUE

Bennett Place in West Baltimore will forever be ingrained in many peoples’ memories because of the blazoned shooting death of Baltimore Police detective Sean Suiter on a cool clear fall afternoon in 2017.

The aftermath of Suiter’s death was felt immediately with a suspension of Habeas Corpus for the entire Harlem Park neighborhood that has yet to be addressed. And also long term as the shadows of suspicion hang darkly over a department desperate to shine itself in a new light.

Outside of the city, what’s incredulous is how BPD easily discounted that Suiter was shot the evening before he was supposed to show up as a federal witness to snitch on a complicated network of dirty cops.

The closer you get to the city, the debate breaks along racial lines and consequently also those who generally have a high opinion of the agency. They are the ones who grapple with whether or not Suiter committed suicide because he was fearful of the “snitch label” that accompanied testifying or if he himself was dirty.

People seriously entertain that Suiter took a partner with him to Bennett Place to kill himself, but stage it as a homicide, so his family could reap the monetary benefits. 

BPD apologists are quick to point out that if the feds believed it was a hit by dirty cops, they would have taken over the case when BPD asked.

Then there are black people and others who are suspicious of LE and more broadly the criminal justice system in general.  Sean Suiter’s widow and children have not been shy pointing the finger directly at BPD (calling it an “inside job“)  for covering up and in some ways being responsible for his death. Screenshot (1192)While there hasn’t been a murder on Bennett Place since Sean Suiter’s, there has been plenty of violent murders prior.

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ScreenGrab Baltimore Sun May 2019

Part I

Historically Bennett Place has suffered from bad press since the 1960s when redlining and later public housing would make the one block stretch a tinder box of discontent. Even today soon as the heat from the national attention from Suiter’s death dissipated, the department for sure and consequently local media seem content to let it fade from memory.

What follows is a timeline of connected activity spurred by politics, hubris, neglect, bias, intimidation and fear. At the center of it all is the Baltimore City Police department (BPD, an illegitimate agency that ought to be disbanded.

Summer 2013

Experimenting with a Police State. Baltimore police under PC Anthony Batts erected metal gates restricting entry and exit to the 900 block of Bennett Place in response to two recent fatal shootings.  A mobile unit was stationed nearby staffed by a dedicated officer. This was presented in news as normal reaction.

The victims were Maurice Taylor, 37 and Joshua Billingsley, 26.  Neither death was reported to be gang related. The corner store, UAC Food Mart, was equipped with 20 video cameras. Store owner Chris Akpala behind bullet proof glass was known to post on his walls “wanted” pictures captured from his cameras of known troublemakers in the neighborhood, according to Baltimore Sun.

gated community

Summer 2015

Chaos Ushers In the Feds. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired PC Batts and promoted Kevin Davis in the aftermath of the demonstrations that followed the death of Freddie Gray who lived in the Harlem Park vicinity.

Property damage was minimal save the cable news stations’ looping on a burned CVS store in Penn North. But the DEA said 27 pharmacies ( a staggering one third of ALL pharmacies located in the city) were looted totaling 315,000 doses – nearly half of which were schedule II drugs like opioids, the Sun reported. It was later discovered that a dirty BPD sold looted drugs to return back to the streets

BPD imposed a work slowdown in West Baltimore, in protest to the uprising and the political climate that resulted in six officers being charged with Gray’s homicide.

(Later, the officers’ attorneys challenged the ME’s finding of homicide, preferring instead to to call it an accident resulting from Gray intentionally thrashing himself inside the transport van). This theory has been debunked in a popular Undisclosed podcast.

Nonetheless, signs of life sprung up in Harlem Park in wake of the 2015 death of Freddie Gray after the uprising.

At the request of Mayor Rawlings-Blake, on the heels of the unrest, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began its yearlong investigation into BPD’s patterns and practices regarding claims of civil rights abuses.

Summer 2016

Feds Nab Dirty BPD on a Wiretap. Gun violence and drug overdoes spiked to record numbers.  Fentanyl deaths were up 86% in Maryland.  Baltimore States Attorney dropped all charges on all officers after judge acquitted Lt. Brian Rice of involuntary manslaughter charges. BPD’s work slowdown continued fatally impacting West Baltimore.

In the meantime, feds were listening in on a wiretap and caught a BPD officer discussing using a personal GPS device to make sure a suspected drug dealer wasn’t in his home in order to assist a rival drug dealer in a burglary.  A woman, in bed at the time of the break in,was robbed by a masked BPD officer at gunpoint.

While building the drug case, feds stumbled upon members of a specialized BPD unit called the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) committing and covering up robberies, drug deals and overtime fraud.

Also, the DOJ issued its findings in a scathing report outlined a pattern of constitutional violations which would lead to the city consenting to reform itself under court supervision.

Sunday December 4, 2016

The Triple Murder That Brought Suiter to Bennett Place. Residents in 900 block of Bennett Place called 911 about 3 am to report sounds of gunfire.  Baltimore Police responded and left.

Though concerned all morning, residents of 900 block of Bennett Place waited to call Baltimore Fire Department and someone requested a welfare check. Fire officials found a body and called BPD.

Police located three deceased black males in a boarded up house at 5:45 pm.  Sean Suiter, reportedly the detective assigned to the case, returned to the scene multiple times, the final time was nearly a full year later on the day he was killed.

Monday December 5, 2016

BPD labeled the murder victims as “targeted” (instead of random) and proclaimed them to be Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) gang members (an oft used tactic). Once labeled gang related, the triple murder became less palatable to suburban paid subscribers. The methods LE use to link people to gangs is controversial.

Saturday December 10, 2016

Police publicly identify the victims as Antonio Davis, 23; Howard Banks ,45 and Thomas Carter, 42.  Police’s public outreach to solve this murder was minimal based on the messaging delivered by BPD spokesperson T. J. Smith.

2017 Sean Suiter’s world collides with the fate of GTTF

 

January 2017

Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. The new administration under the leadership of DOJ Secretary Jeff Sessions produced a consent decree to the Baltimore City and the Police Department that mandated sweeping and costly reforms.

Catherine Pugh was also inaugurated as the city’s next mayor. Rawlings-Blake did not seek re-election.

March 1, 2017

Seven Baltimore Police officers, linked to the specialized unit (GTTF), were arrested as feds announced a sordid criminal conspiracy indictment involving crimes that went back at least a decade and some capers as recent as mere days before their actual arrest.


Part II : Accusation Sean Suiter unknowingly planted evidence with GTTF and sent two innocent men to prison; BPD’s coordinated a suppression of liberty and freedoms with aid of a complicit media in the week-long lockdown of Harlem Park

Part III: Whispers of suicide in BPD’s bought and paid for panel of independent experts reviewing the agency’s investigation of Suiter’s death and the unraveling of the IRB report

The Hunting Season: Targeting BPD’s Sean Suiter and Ike Carrington

 

 

BALTIMORE — Reporters pulled at threads to piece together a coherent follow up story today to tidy up loose ends poking out about the near fatal shooting of Baltimore City police detective Isaac “Ike” Carrington.

The city’s newspaper of record, The Baltimore Sun, took pains to distinguish how police “blocked” traffic during Carrington’s transport to the hospital, but didn’t “shut down” streets as reported by sometime rival/sometime media partner television station WBAL. On Thursday, Aug 22 flailing local outlets sought out a second day story after Carrington, 43,  was craftily released from the hospital orchestrated by the department’s public relations team.

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At the center of the patrol vehicles’ “block vs charge” debate is a friend of City Council President Brandon Scott, Ike Carrington, who has not given an interview to the press though the public has gotten to know him from his YouTube appearances.  We’ve learned that Carrington is a family man, fashion entrepreneur and police sergeant with a 22-year career in one of the nation’s most notoriously corrupt law enforcement agencies.

The curtain shielding the extent of corruption was pulled back during a high profile trial of two Baltimore Police department (BPD) officers in a specialized unit named Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) four other BPD unit members testified in early 2018 that the corruption was rampant to the degree that even the Baltimore States Attorney was tipping BPD off about feds poking their noses in. Two sergeants Thomas Allers and Wayne Jenkins did not  testify against the slew of corrupt officers as cooperating witnesses and received harsh penalties.

Even before the cops/fed witnesses held their hands up to swear to tell the truth in fed court early 2018 about their extensive criminal activities,  Det Sgt Sean Suiter was shot in a vacant alley in West Baltimore. The still unsolved murder elevated suspicion that he was targeted for his role in planting evidence along with GTTF’s leader Wayne Jenkins.

Suiter died of a single gunshot wound to the back of his head on the exact same day he was scheduled to be a fed witness against the organized crime run out of BPD HQ by some of its most decorated officers.

Reporters looking at the Aug 8, 2019 attempted murder of Ike Carrington without revisiting the early 2018 GTTF trial and Sean Suiter’s Nov 2017 murder in Harlem Park would be committing the same professional bungling BPD is known for.

Putting a Hit on Officers Isn’t That Far Fetched

Dirty cops come with dirty laundry.  No one wants to keep that stench under wraps than those who thrive on the turnstiles that make up the criminal justice system – law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors.

Whilst the feds were making its case against GTTF’s dirty cops using wiretaps and surveillance, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was also rummaging through BPD HQ in response to the homicide death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.  Jenkins as the supervisor of GTTF, used the unrest to cash in – by selling looted pharmaceutical drugs. Record overdoses and violence immediately followed in the most vulnerable neighborhoods where GTTF tended to prey with lucrative results.

Truth be known, the lack of integrity of BPD officers was simmering under the surface way before the GTTF scandal boiled over.  Arguably, the most noteworthy notch in Carrington’s two decades long career with BPD (that is before being shot in the back running from a gunman while off duty) was his partnership with oft disciplined BPD Officer Thomas Wilson III.

Then federal judge, and now Baltimore City Police solicitor Andre Davis, had a peculiar habit of throwing out drug cases. He also had well publicized scathing remarks about the trustworthiness of drug bust investigations conducted by Wilson and Carrington.

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As a federal judge, Davis routinely reprimanded Baltimore Police and in doing so, undermined the integrity of prosecutors’ cases (when he didn’t out and out dismiss charges against drug kingpins).  It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume notorious drug dealers would delight in seeing Judge Davis handle their case – betting the unconstitutional behavior of BPD would draw his ire enough to toss the charges all together freeing them to carry on.

Ike Carrington Linked to GTTF Through Wilson

As if Judge Davis calling Wilson out on several occasions from 2003 to 2008 wasn’t enough, confessed drug dealer, fence for BPD’s Wayne Jenkins, Donald Stepp testified during the GTTF trial that Wilson worked side hustles for Jenkins and was familiar with Jenkins drug dealing. All local media found the GTTF trial compelling but to have a civilian insider who also worked as a bailbondsman  relay his brash testimony was novel.  A colorful character on the witness stand, Donald Stepp routinely dropped nuggets, like exposing Wilson as an ally of Jenkins, and keeping photos of GTTF shenanigans on his cell phone.

Media Missing The Big Picture

Two weeks after Carrington’s shooting, local established media outlets have not yet made the connection between the shooting of the fashionable sergeant in front of his home and the GTTF probe. Screenshot (1138)

It did pop up on social media when public defender Todd Oppenheim posted a query that no MSM picked up on.  His Tweet is what led to this article. Specifically, Oppenheim called into question the partner history between Wilson and Carrington and wondered publicaly why no reporter had asked BPD officials if that GTTF link could be a possible motive for Carrington getting chased and shot in broad daylight.

It’s likely that the new commissioner Michael Harrison would behave exactly like his predecessor Kevin Davis who proclaimed that while the department had uncovered no motive for Suiter’s murder, his being scheduled to testify in a grand jury against his blue brethren was no way connected to his untimely demise. Zilch. Nada.

Independent journalists have looked closely into the Suiter case to reveal the possibility that the well respected officer was being exposed like a sitting duck. Namely Justine Barron has taken a painstaking look, frame by frame, of the video recovered that captures minutes leading up to his murder and BPD’s response.

Just this time last year, #WestBaltimore residents waited to exhale after holding its collective breath for the “independent” review board (IRB) examination of BPD’s November 2017 murder investigation of husband and father Sean Suiter.

From all appearances Suiter’s killer laid in wait until his partner David Bomenka was out of view before he was able to shoot the veteran homicide detective in the back of the head. Bomenka claimed he never saw anybody.

The IRB concluded there was no  convincing evidence that Suiter was murdered (but they never looked at his partner as being a suspect, only a witness) making suicide the only remaining option.  They also ruled out the shot to the back of the head as an accident.  PC Davis, after he was fired, stood by the decision to investigate Suiter’s death as a homicide and called the suicide theory “absurd.”

Woefully, initial media reports tend to be clumsy and hurried because the situation is fluid and outlets are desperate to not be scooped by their competitors. Add to in the high emotions of when police are investigating one of their own as a crime victim, we can be sure that this department will spin out of control ignoring all policies, protocols and training as it the IRB documented that they did during Suiter homicide almost a year ago.

BPD Shapping Ike’s Narrative

Harrison’s BPD has kept media at bay and orchestrated the messaging about the shooting with a public relations spin that has pushed local reporters to the periphery.

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The wounded officer’s release from the hospital Wednesday was accompanied by a social media maelstrom of photos of salutes from various angles by various first responders provided by BPD. Media was not permitted access to Carrington who has not given a public statement about his attackers.

Earliest Reports Gleaned by Press

Carrington and a neighbor were standing in front of his home where he lived with his family in the Frankford section of Northeast Baltimore when two men wearing masks approached. The neighbor dropped his wallet and phone and ran across the street, he told Fox45 Keith Daniels.  Carrington ran in the opposite direction according to multiple reports.

A neighbor and friend of Carrington (Jabir Pasha) who lives near the corner at Todd Ave heard the shots and then saw the Carrington, prompted him to render aid, reported the Baltimore Sun. Pasha noted a gunshot wound to both arms and also one in the back.

WJZ spoke with neighbors and captured the prerequisite “I’m shocked” interviews from people who claimed the neighborhood is quiet and friendly.

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A total of six shots were fired in Carrington’s direction. A neighbor’s surveillance camera captured the sound of four shots in quick succession. After a 2-3 second silence, two more quick shots.  The “robber” chased only Carrington, who ran away from his home and his friend as his assailant gave chase.

Police quickly notified the public to be on the look out for a blue Acura that was seen fleeing the scene, which in Baltimore is tantamount for searching for a 5 feet 7 inch black man with a goatee – they’re everywhere. A similar non-description description was given for the suspect in Suiter’s murder, a black man wearing a hat and a black jacket – in November.  The reward for Carrington’s shooting is $19,000. Suiter’s broke records at over $200,000 and is still unclaimed.

In a city where anyone’s life could be snuffed out at any minute, having that reality apply to law enforcement officers is extremely unsettling. Add in that they were both black officers should arouse suspicion in an agency noted for its institutional racism.

Carrington was well known in his neighborhood and it was no secret he was an officer with the Baltimore Police department.  He was gunned down steps from his house while the person within arms reach received little attention from the robbers.

Baltimore residents deserve a legislature brave enough to insist that outside independent investigators  look into if anyone connected to LE could be responsible for the shooting of Carrington and the murder of Suiter.  In the upcoming election for mayor, any serious candidate must speak on the need to assure the public that no one from LE is actually targeting BPD.

Until taken off the table, concerned citizens are likely to believe that both Carrington and Suiter were targeted because of their affilitation with crooked cops who have an ongoing operation within BPD.  Just because the snake’s head was cut off when Wayne Jenkins was arrested (and kept his mouth shut) doesn’t mean the body of the snake isn’t slithering around the halls of easily one of the most corrupt police departments in US history.

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Cops as Criminals: It’s Not Black and White

All crooked cops aren’t created equally.

Some are born crooked. Some are led astray. Still others, like Momodo Gondo, has crookedness thrust upon him.

No one can pinpoint exactly when Baltimore Police became a hotbed of corruption. More importantly though, no one alive today can honestly remember when it wasn’t.

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Above: Momodu Gondo points to former BPD commander Dean Palmere (Below) who helped orchestrate the cover up of a murder carried out by a GTTF member. Palmere is the subject of a lawsuit that claims it was his command that permitted abuses by GTTF.

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Gondo and his closest Baltimore Police Department (BPD) buddy Jemell Rayam set the federal courthouse on fire last year as cooperating witnesses against two officers standing trial, Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor. The testimony was explosive pointing fingers at higher ups and eventually one another as members of the media darlings: Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF).

Gondo is scheduled for sentencing Tuesday February 12th. The month-long trial left a lasting impression:  corruption is rampant throughout BPD and everybody knows it.  The most influential media types have coddled the likes of former BPD commissioner and WBAL guest talk show host Kevin Davis who as points to a few bad apples tarnishing an otherwise stellar organization.

The world (not an exaggeration) took notice of BPD’s level of corruption after what happened to 25-year old Freddie Gray.  A bystander’s  video of Gray, wounded and howling, sickened all with a conscience who heard it.  People still cringe watching the previously healthy and strapping young man being helped into the back of a van by a cadre of white officers.

So there’s that.

Even before Gray’s fatal injuries in police custody, in 2014, the Baltimore Sun chronicled the exorbitant payouts in taxpayer dollars to silence citizens who suffered mightily at the hands of a small, but growing and increasingly violent cadre of police officers.

If Baltimore didn’t invent Walking While Black, it sure did its damnest to perfect it. Screenshot (2023)

West Baltimore is where the long arm of constitutional protections simply does not reach.  Never did. Generations of families suffer from substandard housing, lack of health care, poor nutrition, high drop out rates and low income with precious few escapes.

Heavily reliant upon mass transits, West Baltimore is where BPD members hone their racist practices disguised as stops, searches, and seizures.  Sadly, two decades into the new millennium, some blacks believe that over policing is what is needed to make their communities safe.

The lack of concern for West Baltimore was never more evident that during the uprising when Douglass High School students were dismissed early from school, only to have the MTA refuse them service at the Mondawmin Metro stop, forcing them to walk home, only to be confronted with grown as police men (mostly) in riot gear hurling chunks of brick at the children.

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After a yearlong investigation, the Department of Justice (called in after the Freddie Gray homicide), released its findings in an August 2016 scathing report. To no one’s surprise, the DOJ found that systemic racist practices were embedded so deep into the culture that BPD had not shed even a layer of its  history cloaked with KKK sympathizers.

The corruption was inescapable in 2016. Even so, when black homicide detective Sean Suiter was shot in the back of his head in November 2017 on a vacant lot in broad daylight with a white partner in tow, no one hardly blinked when BPD treated residents of Harlem Park like it was Fullujah.

Parallels to the Iraq War and BPD training are eerily similar.  Evidence of mistreatment of women recruits was captured as a “trophy”.

Arguably, Momodo Gondo, as an eager recruit didn’t join BPD with plans of using his badge and glock as a literal license to kill, maim, intimidate and harass.  The kid came from a “good family” of immigrants in a two parent household of professionals.

His father, Albert Gondo, a native of Sierra Leonne (as is his wife), worked for 20 years as a teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools. He died in December 2016 after a lengthy battle with Cancer.  According to his family, he was known a a principled man, a devoted husband and father.

When emotions ran high during the GTTF trial, Gondo would take to swearing on the memory of his dead father to repudiate fellow detective Jemelle Rayam’s claim about why Gondo was shot shoon after leaving the Academy. Rayam has yet to be sentenced.

If Gondo wasn’t born bad, when did it all go wrong?

The Academy – 2005

Gondo @22 years old

Gondo and his academy brother  Rayam are the final two government witnesses awaiting sentencing.  Gondo – under oath accused Rayam of cold-blooded murder (explored further in Part II) that was covered up by Palmere.

Academy training has more in common with military training than the most of the public may know. The enemy are the people on the street, the community members and the only ones cops trust are themselves.  The creed is to make it home safe. It rarely has anything to do with protecting and serving the public. Especially if the public is black, male and doubly so if he lives in West Baltimore.

Indoctrination and training are the two major components of the trainee’s experiences.  Like the military, the BPD academy experience is designed to break down a person, and build them up. Not coincidentally, it also serves as a loyalty demand. Recruits early on learn to depend on the brotherhood as if their life depended on it.

Gondo graduated in October 2006.

Screenshots from a 2004 era video of a training exercise where a trainee exits a gas house puking with her skin burning reliant upon BPD to carry her to safety. The level of depravity at BPD seemingly knows no bounds.

3 Shots in the Back – 2006

Gondo @23 years old

Then-Officer Gondo was shot three times in the back in December 2006, barely two months after graduating the academy.  Using a photo array, Gondo fingered the shooter as 24-year old Collin Hawkins (with a long history of drug dealing offenses on his record).  The feds, not the Baltimore States Attorney’s office made the case.

The particular moment that turned Gondo into a career criminal cannot be exact, but the same cannot be said for determining when BPD failed him and the community he was allowed to stalk.

Attempted Murder Trial – 2008

Gondo @25 years old

A case of He said vs He said.

The jury returned a not guilty verdict for the man charged with pumping 3 bullets into the back of a bullet proof vest Gondo was wearing as he got out of his car near his home in East Baltimore.

As the victim (and a cop to boot) Gondo pointed out for the jury,  a young black man Collin Hawkins as the person he fired 13 rounds at in a street shoot out. Gondo told the jury that he he and Hawkins struggled as he tried to thwart a carjacking. No dice. The jury decided not to believe Gondo.

Hawkins’ defense attorney claimed that Gondo simply chose the wrong guy. The defense pointed to the State’s Attorney’s Office’s extremely weak case with no gun, no DNA from the reported struggle. It was just the rookie’s word,  and it wasn’t enough.

Next Up: in Part II Fed Witness Testimony and The Sentencing

Freddie Gray: BPD’s Most Famous Yet Forgotten Victim

Freddie Gray’s painful wails resonate as loud as those who suffered the barbaric Middle Passage.

Instead of a transport from African tribal villages to “The New World” Baltimore Police chained him like a hog. Not in a ship, but in a van,  they circled around between Gilmor projects to McCulloh Homes and back again to the Western precinct – all the time with him shackled.

It was at Western District HQ that EMT’s found him to be unresponsive, surrounded by law enforcement officers already in the throes of denials.

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It took a Constitutional Amendment to abolish slavery (except for punishment of a crime) in the United States.  Academy award winning director Ava DuVernay produced a Netflix documentary on the subject. Regardless, since 1865, law enforcement officers have become judge, jurors and executioners.

Running in the opposite direction at the sight of police isn’t a crime. Chasing people who do, though, ought to be be.  The Baltimore six were either tried, exonerated or had their charges dropped in a court of law.

Freddie Gray was charged with possession of a knife that was hidden in his pants pocket. Police stopped him because he could. He ran because BPD are notorious for robbing people and/or planting evidence. It was an early Sunday spring morning.

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To Know Where You’re Going, Know Where You’ve Been

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Baltimore Police is awash with criminals.  A Department of Justice investigation found that the department rarely follows the supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.  The culture of unconstitutional behavior goes back decades, for generations.

If not for the Freddie Gray investigation, it’s likely that members of the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) would still be driving their cars into groups of unsuspecting citizens.  Sgt Wayne Jenkins and officer Danny Hersl  would likely be planning to burglarize their next luxury condo at the city’s crown jewel, the harbor.

The resulting Consent Decree is a referendum on the actions of BPD and Freddie Gray’s death.  An in depth look at the absurdity of the internal investigation is explored in a podcast, UnDisclosed The Killing of Freddie Gray.

For perhaps underlying racist reasons the courts, the monitors and even the DOJ seem content to allow the BPD to make it about the Gun Trace Task force and not about Freddie Gray.

Gun Trace Tack Force’s Forced Confrontation of What Everybody Already Knew

Sitting in on the GTTF trial was an eye opener for many seasoned reporters.  As each victim under oath recounted how armed Baltimore Police officers cased their homes, held them at under threat of lethal force and stole not just money, jewelry, clothing and for some drugs, a fact could not longer be ignored.

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Baltimore Police Department itself is corrupt. No one  (other than the FOP) will dare say now that the problem is either a few bad apples or rogue officers. It’s an unavoidable certainty that the systems in place at BPD produced, cultivated and unleashed emboldened criminals to prey on primarily the weakest and most vulnerable of the city’s residents. For this, there is no redemption.

The barrel that holds together the law enforcement agency for Baltimore City is a putrid vessel carrying despicable and deplorable individuals. Anyone after listening to GTTF and still believes  BPD can be reformed instead of destroyed.

Freddie Gray’s Death Cloaked BPD in Feelings of Invincibility

How rotten is BPD?   GTTF robberies occurred while the feds were in cruisers doing ride alongs, knee deep scouring IAD files, and listening to wiretaps.  A (still yet identified) snitch within the State’s Attorney’s office leaked to the BPD gang that indictments were likely. Jenkins, his crew, and ilk continued to plant evidence and sell drugs.

It’s easy to see why GTTF felt emboldened. Freddie Gray died from  painful and pronounced injuries while police custody. His death was  likely the result of excessive force by multiple officers.  Even with charges filed, trials held, and exoneration handed down, there’s been no accounting for his untimely death.

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The federal government was closing in.  The indicted BPD officers (low level) were weeks away from trial.  Some were looking to cut a deal or change their pleas.  Next, a former member of their team was scheduled to testify the next day.  Before he could name names and point fingers, Det. Sean Suiter ended up with a bullet in the back of his head in an abandoned lot with only another BPD officer present.

In this environment, the likely suspect would seem to be connected to Freddie Gray and/or the GTTF crew.  Instead, BPD hired an “outside” and “independent” panel which arrived at an incredulous finding of suicide.

Keeping One’s Eyes on the Prize

In a 20 minute opening statement on Thursday January 24, 2019 in the U.S. Courthouse, Judge James K. Bredar who is overseeing the implementation of the Consent Decree spoke of several matters. Not one time did he mention Freddie Gray.  A synopsis of his major points are as follows:

  1. The BPD’s training facility is really cold and unimpressive. The state should fund a new state of the art building/campus to lure good cops to Baltimore.
  2. Michael S. Harrison, New Orleans’ top cop is the best hope Baltimore can ask for considering its last commissioner was arrested for tax evasion.
  3. If BPD doesn’t reform itself, the violence and crime will skyrocket.
  4. Feds find themselves in “deplorable circumstances” having (during a shut-down) to represent the government without being paid.
  5. 23 murders by the 24th of the month is a “shocking statistic”
  6. The department’s only hope now is Michael S. Harrison.
  7. Community engagement efforts are lagging.
  8. BPD has written new policies.
  9. CRB is all but in the trash bin.
  10. Mayor Pugh didn’t show at all and Tuggle didn’t return after the lunch break to attend to a “family emergency.”

Once the meeting was winding down and some thought levity was appropriate, Judge Bredar made a quip. Bredar said he couldn’t wait to read the book interim commissioner Gary Tuggle is likely to write after his stint with BPD.

That, my dear, is the Baltimore way.

 

 

 

 

Judge says Baltimore Police Too Big to Fail, But that Ship Might Not Hold Water

Baltimore.

Not quite Charm City.

Far from Bodymore, Murderland.

A town with an abundance of big city problems – much more like, Small-timore.

Members of AFSCME Local 1195 Baltimore, Maryland Police Union strike in 1969.
BPD walked off the job in 1974 even after gaining widespread protections in passage of the state’s Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (LEOBR) in 1972.  Pushback prevented collective bargaining until 1982 leading to today’s FOP3.

Baltimore is big on grit, tenacity, history, humor all blended together to make for a special brand of what some call charm.  Tinged by the threatening cloud hovering over the major sports stadiums and scaring away any potential corporate growth is the city’s biggest budget item: The Baltimore Police Department.

The Problem

Baltimore’s Police Department is too big – to fail.  Yeah, just like the banks that suckered people into mortgages they could not afford, made a ca-billion dollars by packaging the loans together, disguising their value, and getting taxpayers to bail them out when their balance sheets couldn’t add up.

Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar in his remarks Thursday during the second quarterly update by the parties involved in Consent Decree declared (Small-timore) Police Department too big to fail.  The analogies didn’t stop there.

Judge Bredar was clearly no fan of BPD at any point while negotiating the Consent Decree between the feds and the city and then selecting a monitoring team to oversee the process.  Furthermore, he is set to spend the next 5-10 years enforcing the decree to fix the ails (Monitoring Team points to “decades of neglect and mismanagement”) that DOJ uncovered when it pulled back the covers of BPD following the in custody death of Freddie Gray.

Still after witnessing all the ugliness festering inside a racist institution with little challenge for generations, Bredar then was subjected to a month long trial with sordid tales of murder, drug dealing, robberies, and the efforts to cover up the crimes while working as special unit detectives with the Baltimore Police dept.  Bredar spits out each letter of the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) like he’s riding himself of the taste of a bad peanut at an Orioles game.

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Judge James K. Bredar. Undated Photo. Presumably 10 year old. caption

Even this judge, with all that he has seen, is not in favor of disbanding BPD and starting over.  This city is not Camden, New Jersey he said.

“It’s not going to happen” said Bredar. There will be no fourth quarter “hail Mary pass” by way of a magical fix to the dept’s woes.  Anything other than sticking to the course set forward by the Monitoring Team is an “infeasible concept.”

At times the Judge appeared at a lost, but nonetheless compelled to dole out some measure of encouragement. For instance, he liked Solicitor Andre Davis’ oratory skills. Maybe how his forced sincerity bounced off the portraits hanging on the chamber walls.

With a proverbial pat on his head, Judge acknowledged how interim BPD Commissioner Gary Tuggle is pressing forward meeting deadline after deadline in drafting  policies that most likely eventually be tossed in the trash. Bredar expects whoever eventually takes over the helm, and rightfully so, would want his or her stamp on the process. Mayor Catherine Pugh did not attend this day long hearing. At the first hearing she and DeSousa left immediately after giving their opening remarks.

“BPD is the only police department that going to police the city of Baltimore – especially in my lifetime,” said Bredar.

Even with his commitment to the institution, the the judge ticks off significant if not insurmountable wrongs with BPD namely:

BPD has no commissioner. It’s had three in first six months of the year. Depending on the analogy of the day, the department lacks a construction foreman, compass on a barn, rudder on a ship, architect with blueprints, pilot with a flight plan,  foundation to a skyscraper – it’s become quite comical as new ones crop up.

City Solicitor Andre Davis said 10 resumes have been submitted after a nationwide posting and efforts were being made to replace former Commissioner Darryl DeSousa chosen by Pugh, who resigned  four months into the job after admitting to failing to file his taxes for multiple years.  Davis  attempted to assure the judge that the “flight plan” that the city has put forth using the Police Research Forum to aid in selection of the next commissioner will have one in place by Halloween.

Judge Bredar’s concerns were not assuaged.  “Sooner than that I hope,” he said. Everyday there is one or two negative things in the press.  He pointed to the officer arrested that week in Baltimore County county on charges of selling prescription narcotics.

“I’m not afraid to make the tough decisions” the Judge said. And then slightly under his breath,  “I don’t always make the popular decision.”

While claiming BPD is too big to fail in his eyes, Bredar had little difficulty often pointing out the department’s numerous and substantial umm, failures:

  • Staffing shortages
  • Stalled union negotiations
  • Fiscal constraints
  • Void in technology infrastructure
  • Lack of leadership
  • Deft of public trust

The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) which houses Internal Affairs Department (IAD) is a revolving door of people in command with no policy to implement and not captain to steer the ship.  The department said the judge is an “essential organ in a healthy police body.”

“I suggest there are no more critical questions than one, who will be the next commissioner and two does that person have what it takes to lead the department out of the wilderness.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ) chimed in with its own concerns of the “capacity” the department has to make any changes. Along with being the “complainant” in the Consent Decree urging reform, the DOJ is participating with other federal agencies on four ongoing investigations of BPD:

  1. The death of Det. Sean Suiter
  2. Accusations of rushing recruits through the Academy
  3. BPD’s role in revelations uncovered by the GTTF trial
  4. Allegations that an officer lied on the stand in a criminal matter

Problems to Come

Suffering from a back ailment, Judge Bredar often looked uncomfortable at the bench. He said he is bracing himself on the results of the full investigation of BPD’s actions during last year’s Harlem Park lock down.  Citizens implored government intervention to no avail with pleas of #FreeWestBaltimore.  After Det. Sean Suiter was shot on in Nov 15, 2017, BPD all but suspended the Constitution by erecting an expanded perimeter that kept innocent people virtually prisoners in their homes.  Then commissioner Kevin Davis swatted away concerns of violations excusing them in favor of a pressing murder investigation.

Judge Bredar took particular exception to command’s reaction.  Noting it is in exactly times of stress and upheaval that training, adherence to policy and procedure is needed and must be adhered to. Baltimore failed.

The media and others did not recognize that it wasn’t just Harlem Park who suffered when then Commissioner Kevin Davis displayed a utter breakdown in his failure to lead, the entire department and therefore all of the citizens experienced a rip in the very fabric of what holds a civilization together. “The fix is at the top of the organization. Right now we don’t have a top,” said Bredar.

Stops and searches went on for nearly a week after Suiter’s murder. People were detained, some where brought into police station, most without their consent and questioned. One officer out of the multitude that ascended to 900 block of Bennett Place had activated her body worn camera capturing two hours of footage.

Children were kept out of school. Some were even given written passes permitting their travel in and around certain neighborhoods.

“The verdict’s not in” but in talks with the monitoring team “My suspicion is that it’s going to be disturbing.”

 

Top 10 (Known) Crimes by ex Baltimore City Police Det. Danny Hersl

Warning: Do Not Proceed Unless You Believe (Some) Baltimore Police Straight Up Rob People on the Regular

Veteran cop, Daniel T. Hersl, 49, infamous for his abusive rants and provocations of Baltimore’s citizens, awaits sentencing Friday June 22 in U.S. District Court. He faces up to 60 years  after a jury found him guilty of racketeering, fraud and robbery charges as a member of the violence-prone street gang with badges, – otherwise known as the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF).

Using RICO statutes, originally crafted as a way to bust open impenetrable crime syndicates like the Mafia, the feds pursued eight cops who as employees of Baltimore City Police department created a criminal enterprise while working as BPD officers that included robbery and drug dealing.

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ex BPD Det. Jemell Rayam. During trial accused Danny Hersl of stealing $3k cash from the $20k cash they stole during a robbery — proving there is no honor among BPD thieves. The robbery victims currently have a civil lawsuit against the city.

During closing arguments in a February 2018 trial, federal prosecutors reminded jurors that Hersl, who joined BPD in 1999, and other veterans in the Baltimore City Police department were acting as both cops and robbers for years, some even before they joined the GTTF.  The victims were believable; the crimes were brazen; the sentences are historical.

A timeline to assist with understanding the “Top 10” Crimes by Daniel T. “Danny” Hersl

  • April 2015      Freddie Gray in-custody homicide
  • April 2015  Civil unrest in West Baltimore’s to protest F.G’s violent death
  • Summer 2015 Jenkins sells looted pharma drugs, sparking opioid crisis
  • July 2016 Feds tap BPD vehicle in the Shropshire drug organization investigation
  • August 2016   Department of Justice scathing report on BPD systematic abuses
  • March 2017    Federal indictments announced against BPD’s GTTF squad
  • April 2017   City enters into a Consent Decree to reform BPD’s racists practices
  • Oct 2017 Rayam and Gondo testify as gov’t witness against A. Shropshire
  • Nov 2017   Det. Sean Suiter murdered the day before scheduled witness testimony
  • Jan 2018 Four ex GTTF cops testify to a 4+ year crime spree while police officers
  • Feb 2018 Jury find Danny Hersl and Marcus Taylor guilty using RICO

To recap, the Gun Trace Task Force was one of many special units within the BPD that operated with little oversight and under various acronyms through different administrations over decades.

As plainclothes detectives, they have untold (and undocumented) interactions with a plethora of drugs, guns, and cash.  Such units are ripe for corruption, according to the the federal government, even in the best of departments.  One member of GTTF, Det. Thomas Clewell who worked along side of each of the members has not been charged.

 

GUN TRACE TASK FORCE

In closing arguments, federal prosecutors implored the mostly white jury to see the parade of unlikely victims, some drug dealers, others with a criminal background as not worthy of protection of the United States Constitution.

Hersl’s co-defendant Marcus Taylor, who joined BPD in 2009,  was sentenced to 18 years earlier this month and is planning an appeal.  Judge Catherine Blake will hear motions related to Hersl’s conviction, but is expected to proceed with his sentencing.  Others who plead guilty thus sparing taxpayers the expense of trial or the complete farce of proclaiming innocence are:

Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, now serving  25 years, joined BPD in 2003. Was the ranking officer in charge of the Special Enforcement Section (SES) with Taylor along with officers Evodio Hendrix and Maruice Ward before taking over GTTF.  Robberies by Jenkins, Hendrix, Ward and Taylor began as early as 2013 as members of the SES squad.

Sgt. Thomas Allers, now serving 15 years, joined BPD in 1996. Headed up GTTF from its origin to 2016 before handing the reigns over to Jenkins and leaving to join a joint DEA task force.

Two other Baltimore Police detectives who plead guilty, did not go to trial and also served as cooperating witnesses (presumably are still doing so in ongoing investigations) include ex detectives Jemell Rayam and Momodu Gondo.

ex Det. Danny Hersl’s Top 10 Crimes and Lawsuits

10 Gave a slip of paper with the date written on it as a warning to H.T. after searching his mouth and down his pants not to let him see him again – only to arrest him a few days later in Nov 2015. Hersl stole $314 from a check he had just cashed. Guilty of robbery and extortion.

9  Stole narcotics and $1700 cash from A.F. and let him go. Guilty of robbery and extortion in Aug. 2016.

8 Stole $2000 from a sock in a homeless man’s storage unit. Threatened the business’ clerk when he would not hand over the surveillance video that captured the theft.

7 Took about $8000 from glove compartment of D.A. who was caught after fleeing scene tossing cocaine out of the window.

6 Nearly doubling his $75k annual salary with false claims of overtime and wire fraud.

5 Breaking the jaw of fleeing suspect until he passed out in 2010. City paid $49k.

4 Breaking the arm of a 19-year old girl in a carry out restaurant in 2007. City paid  $50k

3 Dropped charges by prosecutors in a 2006 case when jurors were notified that complaints against him to Internal Affairs were in the double digits.  This was 10 years before he was promoted to the GTTF.

“Misconduct, sometimes when it’s frequent enough, it indicates a lack of desire to tell the truth” (the late) Circuit Court Judge John Prevas is quoted as saying after reviewing Hersl’s IAD file, in a 2014 Baltimore Sun story

 

2 The double cross. Robbery of the Hamiltons in July 2016. Hersl reportedly stole $3k while the GTTF crew wasn’t looking and before BPD stole $20K from the family.

1 The depraved indifference.  Instead of rending aid, Hersl sits with other GTTF cops  in a nearby police car after an illegal high speed chase that resulted in an Aug 2016 car crash.  Hersl is heard on the wire tap suggesting ways to cover up the fact that they were working at all by altering documents to avoid discipline or prosecution.

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Danny Hersl, convict and former “elite” Baltimore Police officer

Within the Constitutionally-adverse BPD, these units became known as “elite” by the media as well as up and down previous and existing names in command. Both would hype the arrests as a measure of crime fighting.

But for the citizens they were sworn to protect and serve, these units became the living, breathing, gun-toting, badge wearing symbol of why no one would ever willingly call or cooperate with the police even in the most dire of  circumstances.

Hersl’s (Dis) Hornable mentions:

  • Harassing dirt bike enthusiasts.
  • Harassing local rapper Young Moose chronicled by CityPaper.
  • Pepper spraying demonstrators in the wake of of Freddie Gray’s death.

“Detective Hersl, he a bitch, I swear to God he ain’t right/ Heard about my rap career, he trying to fuck up my life/ That nigga fuck me over once, he ain’t getting another,” Moose raps on the song ‘Tired,’ off 2014’s “OTM 3” mixtape. “That racist bitch had the nerve to put the cuffs on my mother/ Put the cuffs on my father, then put the cuffs on my brother/ He think about me every day, that nigga mind in the gutter/ Looking for some information bitch that ain’t how I rock/ Throwing dirt on my name because I’m going to the top/ The warrant wasn’t even right when they ran in my spot.” – Young Moose interview by Brandon Soderberg

 

 

Murder By Numbers: Policing in Baltimore Just Doesn’t Add Up

Prologue:  Baltimore Police are cornered. After the uprising sparked by the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, the Department retaliated by purposely neglecting neighborhoods they deem to be not worthy of police protection by what they ironically called taking a knee. In one of those areas, Harlem Park, Det. Sean Suiter was shot in the head and left for dead in 2017. Police face scrutiny from Baltimore’s Office of Civil Rights and the ACLU when it suspended the Constitution by preventing free movement in this residential area for nearly a week. Top brass rationalized the move as necessary to catch a vaguely described black man wearing a black jacket. The case is still unsolved despite a record setting $215,000 reward.

Nudged in between 2015 (Gray) and 2017 (Suiter) one murder victim went largely noticed.  However, the case emerged from the shadows, in March 2018 when parents took their concerns to the regular monthly meeting of the Civilian Review Board. Just so happens, representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice were in attendance and took a keen interest in the case of Greg Riddick. After tearful testimony and an enraged Board at a May 2018 CRB meeting, the Board issued its blistering findings – willfully exceeding its authority due to the atrocities its investigation uncovered. 

PART I: What follows shows what happens when civilians have a say in policing and why clearly Baltimore police are utterly incapable of policing themselves.

 

crime scene tape

Gregory Riddick’s parents learned of their son’s death like countless many others in Baltimore.

They logged onto to Murder Ink.

No one from BPD called the family about recovering Greg’s body.  There was no late night knock on the door. Nor did the family themselves call around to hospitals or their local precinct.  That stuff only happens in the movies.

In this instance, Baltimore’s latest murder victim was not identified by name, but by number. The report stated  a 26-year old male died of gunshot wounds in the area where Gregg was last known to have been. It was with the announcement on Murder Ink,  the family’s tug of war with the all mighty and powerful Baltimore City Police Department began.

“They didn’t ask me to come down and ID my son or nothing,” said Riddick.  “The next time I saw my son was in the funeral home.”

Greg Trill
Gregory E. Riddick, Jr

Justice at this point seems to be too big of an ask. Each day local television, social media and The Baltimore Sun tallies up people’s sons, brothers, uncles, husbands, fathers and friends as if they were counting Chicklets out of a gumball machine.

Save the rare novelty of a victim who was also an honor roll student, a grandmother or young child, mainstream media fails to show the humanity of the lives lost, the suffering of the community, and more likely than not these days, the role that BPD played.

Murder Ink, the lifeline for much of Baltimore, didn’t tell the whole story, of course. Maintained by the alt-weekly City Paper, crime victims relied upon its community-centered reporting.  Reporters filled in details where outlets like The Sun fell short.

Predictably, mainstream media only told the police’s version.  Greg Riddick Jr. was shot, yes.  But he was also ran over and dragged over 1,000 feet, in full view of police officers, a innocent bystander who became a witnesses, and even to those of us listening/reading the 9 1-1 call.

There’s one  significant detail BPD didn’t release to the media that became the catalyst for one Baltimore’s family to become mourner-activists. Police were on the scene at the shooting. Neither officer made a move to secure the crime scene, call in the shooting, or do what the civilian did when he saw a man suffering – come to his aid.

 

Riddick Sr.’s strong Christian faith and the determination of everyone who loved Greg is what that propels them all to push for answers and accountability of the Baltimore City Police Department.

For an emergency, dial 9 1-1

This murder story begins with 9 1-1 call regarding shots fired and ends with a horror one cannot imagine.  The tape is likely to haunt all not lulled to sleep by the silent counting of those who lost their lives to the proliferation of guns and the ineffectiveness of the Baltimore Police Department. It all happened in front of witnesses, and it was captured on video surveillance.

“I am on Harford Road and Homestead. Uh, somebody just got shot in front of me,” said the caller on the 9 1-1 tape.

These are the words of the Good Samaritan traveling home about 1 am after visiting an ailing family member. His identity is being shielded as the investigation is ongoing and because, well, it’s Baltimore.

It was his first words spoken to the 9 1-1 operator.   It details the eyewitness’ account, establishes the presence of BPD at the scene, and gives a real time accounting of the hit and run that would follow after Riddick was shot.

Riddick Sr. first heard the 9 1-1 tape alone.  He heard a male caller describe how he saw a car speed away after a shooting.  And that the victim was laying in the middle of the street.  The witness recollects first trying to get the police’s attention before resorting to calling 9 1-1.

He finds the man’s efforts and experiences to be both horrific and at the same time comforting.  A complete stranger stood near his son to provide comfort and security.

“The man. He didn’t have to stop,” Riddick said.

For Annette Gibson, Greg’s mother, the discussion of the tape and the officers’ lack of action stirs up a full range of emotions.

“I couldn’t, [listen]” Gibson said through tearful sobs. “I don’t want to hear it.”

At first despondent, then determined, suddenly angry and back to sobbing she relives the events of earier that day.  Greg had arrived in Baltimore earlier that day to pack. He was moving out of the city and the dangers that he was no stranger to.

Before hanging up with the 9 1-1 dispatch, the witness final words were prophetic.

“Yes, the police are here,” said the eyewitness. “They’re taking care of it.”

9 11 Tape Transcript

One answer Greg’s family wants to know is whether the officers at the car stop had Body Worn Cameras (BWC).  A new BWC policy was implemented shortly after Gray’s widely publicized death because of explainable circumstances clouded his in custody death, eroding what little trust existed between the majority of the city’s residents and the 3000+ member force of sworn police officers.

The voice on 9 1-1 tape captures the fear many black men feel in the city. Along with the literal and figurative distance victims and witness alike experience as detached police officers pursue a traffic stop while ignoring a desperate man’s attempt to flag down assistance.

Believing half of what you see and none of what you hear.

There appears to be two sources of video that could have captured both the shooting and the hit and run. One is the owned by the liquor store on the corner and the other is the surveillance system, Citi Watch, operated by Baltimore City Police.

“[BPD] didn’t show me the one on the pole, that’s on the street, said Riddick. The family believes a video exists that would capture the exact location of the police during the traffic stop and why they both didn’t see or hear the shots that the witness did from inside his car.  It would also verify the witness’s account that police ignored his request to help the gunshot victim, prompting him to call 9 1-1 instead.

Pressing for an arrest, the homicide detective initially assigned to the case, Det. Joshua Fuller, met with the family for an update on the investigation. Fuller showed Riddick the footage from the store. Two men are seen creeping along side of the liquor store lying in wait for Greg to get to the corner. Based on conversation Greg was having on the phone, Riddick believed family members would be able to identify the shooters.

No one has responded to the family’s request for Citi Watch footage. It appears that the camera is positioned perfectly to capture the assailants who crept up on Greg from Homestead as he was walking along Harford Road.

Harford Road and Homestead

“[The family] came to I.D. [the shooters], but Fuller wouldn’t do it,” Riddick said.

According to police, while waiting to view the video, BPD overheard a conversation that concerned them about potential retaliation.  As a result, the only family member who was then allowed to see the video was Riddick, Sr.  He was not able to make a positive identification.

“Fuller’s supervisor told him not to (make the arrest ) because of retaliation.” Greg’s family believes something more sinister is at work.  They are seeking the medical examiner’s report to determine the exact cause of death.  If Greg could have survived the bullets but died because of the injuries sustained when the car ran him over, they believe Baltimore City Police have reason enough to stave off the investigation.

“I went down to Internal Affairs and filed paperwork.”  A common public misconception is that IAD is an independent body charged with investigating complaints against the police.

“I told them the whole story. So I figured that OK, Internal affairs. They gonna investigate. They’re not on the police side,” said Riddick.

It then became a waiting game.

“I guess they was hoping that the eight months that the paperwork was just sitting there on his desk that I would just let it go, but I wasn’t going to let it go,” Riddick said.  “Then I got a letter from [Ian] Dombrowski … that they didn’t find anything.”

The head of IAD at the time -then Deputy Commissioner Ian Dombrowki was fingered by convicted BPD officers from the now defunct Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) squad during a 2018 federal corruption and robbery trial of tipping off officers that the feds were watching. He has since been demoted to major.

dombroski
Major Ian Dombrowski

His boss, the head of the department overseeing IAD, Deputy Commissioner Rodney Hill, retired shortly after the GTTF trial ended.

After IAD notified the family that it found no wrongdoing on the part of Baltimore Police in Greg’s murder, the homicide detective leading the investigation, Det. Fuller resigned from BPD, said Riddick.  It would take months before the family would meet the new lead investigator Jill Beauregard-Navarro.

She would make headlines in The Baltimore Sun in May 2018 for what prominent defense attorney J. Wyndal Gordon would call “putting bodies on bodies.” BPD, facing mounting unsolved murders, has cleared record numbers by fingering a dead person as the likely the suspect – case solved.  If more could be done to drag Greg’s memory for his family, it would be if such an atrocity happened.

When one door closes…

Had Riddick known to have asked, he would been told that IAD rarely sustains complaints of police misconduct. With Gregg Riddick’s death, the membership into a club no one wants to belong to grew by dozens. The friends and families of victims of gun violence quickly become students of not just the intricacies and bureaucracy that accompany police investigations but receive an up close and personal view of the purported Wall of Silence.

The family stands alone.  No one in BPD or the State’s Attorney’s Office has told them that the two officers who were citing a traffic violation while Greg was being shot and later ran by over by a car did anything wrong.

When BPD didn’t find any wrongdoing with the two officers who seemingly were preoccupied with a traffic stop and not with a gunshot victim, the Riddick family filed a CRB Complaint form_2 with the Baltimore Office of Civil Rights’ Civilian Review Board.

A well respected community leader, Delegate Jill Carter left Annapolis in early 2017 to rejuvenate the Civilian Review Board as she took the helm of the Office of Civil Rights. Community members appointed by the commission and approved by the Mayor represent each of the BPD nine districts.  By statute they can subpoena witnesses, view police files, and investigate complaints. What they cannot do is mete out punishment to offending officers.

The Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (LEOBR) from the 1970s establishes protocols for police accused of misconduct and criminal activity. Over the years, as cries of police abuses have increased, the protections afforded by the LEOBR has largely stayed the same.  The CRB is handcuffed. The board of citizens can only investigate on claims against officers in five categories: Excessive Force, False Arrest, False Imprisonment, Harassment and Abusive Language.

Although the circumstances of Greg’s death didn’t not fit the definitions that by statue limit CRB’s purview, they took the complaint as a “harassment” claim and investigated the case.

“It breaks my heart, really really to read that whole situation,” said board member George Buntin, Wester District representative.  “The harassment is not there.”

Appalled at even the failure to control the crime scene, the board’s frustration with their limitations was evident. The board met in March CRB Minutes and initially struggled with making a determination of the complaint designated as harassment.

“It’s hard to stretch any of our jurisdiction to what happened here. Can we call it harassment? I don’t think so,” said member Mel Currie, Southwestern district.  “The Civilian Review Board, what I think we should be is.. .we would be the counterpart to Internal Affairs. We should be External Affairs.” Currie said.

As the board began to debate not sustaining the harassment claim, silent tears began to fall from Greg’s grandmother’s eyes.  She was given a box of tissues.  Greg Riddick, Sr was given the opportunity to talk.

For five minutes, a father implored the Board to not let homicide number 299 from 2016 become a historical statistic. His moving account of the circumstances of the 26-year old’s murder had seasoned Board members holding their heads in their hand and lawyers wiping at their eyes.

His sometimes wavering voice full of emotion carried much further that day because unbeknownst to him, representatives from the Department of Justice were in the audience. Video from the meeting can be viewed here around the 32 minute mark.

Justice for Greg is not likely to come from BPD, the SAO, the media or even the DOJ.  It’ll happen when citizens like those on the CRB have the power to decide what behaviors they will and will not accept by the officers that roam the street.

CRB envisions itself having a different process in handling complaints where the public is negatively impacted by police action.  The current process requires complainants to check a box accusing officers of a specific violation.  The Board then deliberates and decides whether or not the stated accusation is upheld.

CRB chairman Bridall Pearson suggested a better process where the event is described by the complainant and the board then arrives at the label of the associated violation.

“If we have a process like that, there’s something we could do about [Riddick’s complaint],” said Pearson.  “In this situation it’s difficult, because our hands are tied.”

 

 

Next Up: Part II The Medical Examiner, Healing and Advocacy

 

 

 

Trumped Up Charges: Convincing the Public Det Suiter’s Death Was Suicide

A vacant lot in West Baltimore is the absolute last place a Baltimore City Police officer would choose to die. Ask any of them.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s focus on both the how and why the Baltimore Police would suggest otherwise.  A review of several notable events will show that BPD has everything to gain and very little to lose if Det. Sean Suiter’s shooting death was changed from a homicide to a suicide.

sean suiter headshot
Det. Sean Suiter

The Evidence As We Know It

BPD has been extraordinarily tight lipped about the investigation from day one.  We’ve been lead to believe not much exists to help solve the case.  A lack of forensic evidence: no DNA lifted from Suiter’s clothing. Nothing recovered from the gun used to shoot him and an eyewitness description of the assailant that should no longer be considered as viable.

Murder Weapon

What is not in dispute is that the 18-year veteran suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head.  Three (or four) shots were fired, with at one to the head, occurring in a garbage-strewn lot where a vacant building used to stand.  While BPD insists the shot came from his own service weapon, no evidence has been put forth to substantiate this claim.  Suiter’s hands were wiped clean.

No tests exists to prove that the bullet “found” a week after the shooting was the one that killed Suiter.  Nor is there any proof that the gun found under his body once patrol arrived is the same gun that fired the bullet that killed him. The gun was retrieved in a patrol car some hours later after the Suiter was removed from the scene/

Reportedly, Suiter and his partner were on Bennett Place following up on a year-old homicide. He was shot at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday November 15, 2017 with no witnesses to the shooting.  If we are to believe his partner Det. David Bomenka (and there’s not reason anyone should) and his recollection of seeing a suspicious person about 20 minutes before the shooting, we can put them scene since as early as 4 pm.

 

suiter 2 cadets
Police cadets canvass neighborhoods seeking assistance in solving Suiter’s murder.

The maddeningly vague description by a seasoned police homicide detective still has watchers scratching their heads.  The suspect (of course) is a black man, wearing a black jacket with a white stripe. A description, presumably provided by the one eyewitness, so vague that it makes one wonder why Commissioner Kevin Davis shared it with the public in the first place.  The suspect description has been fertile ground for conspiracy theorists to sow wild beliefs from day one.  This “description” given by BPD while all other helpful information was withheld from the public is the primary reason BPD has only itself to blame for even why #SuiterTheories is a thing.

black man suspect
Ever ready black male suspect sought.

No age, no height, no weight, was observable by – not just any run-of-the-mill “shook” witness, but a trained  law enforcement officer came up empty on crucial description elements.  However, Bomenka mustered enough cop parlance to say he saw Stuiter struggle with a”black man” who he observed earlier and was “acting suspiciously.”

It’s crucial to also note that  this “description” was not provided to cops responding immediately to the scene.  They were told that there was no suspect description at all!  The next day, a “description” was ultimately provided to the public, and within days, BPD quickly did a re-shuffle and  instructed the public not to consider the black man and black jacket at all because he probably took it off.  Sigh.

Still there was a reward amount, a record high of $215,000.  But we were not asked to look for anyone other than a black man, no age, no height, no build.  Peoples’ suspicion grew.  The eyes of the nation were once again on Baltimore Police Department.

The Timeline

Inexplicably, a timeline of Suiter’s activities for that day was never given.  Maybe he cut someone off  driving and this was a delayed road rage incident.  Someone might have witnessed that. Perhaps someone spotted Suiter at a store he was at earlier, followed him to that location which led to a confrontation or some type of retaliation. Maybe he was sought out by someone who encountered him for a previous arrest or run-in. We’ll never know.  The police have not given any details about what has been ruled out.

Homicide investigations 101 include a timeline of the victim’s activities.  The detectives could have gotten there as early as noon or as late at 4 pm.  But cast that in the huge empty bucket of unknowns. It’s also unknown if they arrived at the same time or in the same car even. Remember, an enticing reward was dangled, but nothing to aid the public to claim it.  BPD never gave the public anything close to a timeline of Suiter’s movements that day to help solve his death as a murder.  It’s almost like it was the city’s first and only murder.

Pretty much everything else has been tainted by innuendo, cloaked in secrecy, and of course, some details Suiter has taken with him to his grave.

Suiter’s Staged “Homicide”

To sell the murder as a suicide, and a staged one at that, BPD will  likely combine a “reasonable motive” along with a description of how Suiter had both the opportunity and skill to pull off a staged homicide.  The theory will center around Suiter’s  apprehension to testify and his desire to leave his five children financially secure. When this is done (with the assistance of compliant media partners), BPD believes it can slam the lid shut on the Det. Suiter death and move forward with the city’s business.  Narrative changed!

The Location

The day before he was set to testify in a federal grand jury case involving corruption in a gun unit at BPD, Suiter along with Det. Bomenka, not his regular partner, set out to West Baltimore.  Bennett Place is a one way westbound residential street that runs parallel to Franklin St and Route 40, which is a major east/west thoroughfare. Schroeder St intersects Franklin St to the north and Fremont Ave crosses it to the south.

It was early in the afternoon a comfortable 45 degrees and cloudy.  People would be walking to and from the neighborhood store, and kids would be coming home from school.

 

 

 

The bustling environment seemed perfect for the why the detectives were out and about  looking for witnesses in order to close a 2016 triple murder case.  The location might not be the best fit for the optimal place to commit a public suicide, but the very next day Suiter was scheduled to give testimony to the grand jury, time was running out.

The Plan

Keeping with the theory, Suiter is there to plan his own death (We assume unbeknownst to Bomenka). With all the activity, Suiter will have to have a series of fortunate events go his way.   BPD has a stake in selling the world on this theory that Suiter’s plan was to die in a urine soaked lot filled with broken bottles and small patches of grass.

The motive they will say is the thing.  Suiter fits the profile (more on this later).

Suicides, accurately and commonly perceived, most likely occurs in isolation. This requires some distance. So (again if Bomeka does not participate in this wildly imaginative concoction of a story), Suiter invents a reason to go behind the wall, perhaps telling Bomenka he has to go relieve himself. When fully out of view, Suiter pops off 2-3 rounds and yells, telling Bomenka to get down or stay back as a ruse.  With no one around to see him,  Suiter pulls on his own clothes to give the impression of a violent struggle. He’s a seasoned cop.  If anyone can stage a crime scene, he can.

Counting on his partner to follow the order, Suiter then takes his gun and reaches behind his head with his right hand and shoots himself, once. He survives the gunshot and is placed on life support until the next day when he is declared dead as a result of his injuries. The medical examiner discounts any speculation that the car accident en route contributed to his death.

NOTE: It’s possible if BPD goes hard with the scenario, Bomenka will be trotted out with new disturbing details that support the suicide theory.

The Motive

Selling the public on the “why” behind concocting such an elaborate hoax will be at the center of scenario of any farce BPD might trot out.  With fancy graphs, data and experts, they will insist that Det. Suiter attempted to stage his death to economically provide for his family.  There won’t be any evidence of this because they would have shared it by now.  Most likely they will point to how Suiter’s situation cozily fits with nationally recognized experts and studies on officers’ suicides.  They’ll talk about PTSD not just for the urban stresses, but they’ll link it back to his tour in Iraq.  It’ll make perfect sense they’ll argue because Suiter will check each of the boxes below:

  • The average age is 42 years old at time of suicide
  • The average time on job was 16 years of service
  • 91% of suicides were by male officers
  • Time on the job when most are most at risk was 15 to 19 years of service
  • Firearms were used in 91.5% of police suicides
  • In 83% of cases, personal problems appear prevalent prior to the suicide

The rationale will be reminiscent of the catch all predictions of a carnival fortune teller: You are seeking the love of your life.  Recently you lost someone close to you.  Something you lost will turn up soon. Yada yada yada.

The conspiracy was fed by the now infamous Thanksgiving holiday  news dump. Davis dropped a bombshell as preparation was underway for Suiter’s funeral. The day of his death, Suiter was supposed to be a federal witness against Baltimore City Police officers.  The video below for the first time discloses Suiter was scheduled to pointing the finger squarely at criminal activity within BPD.  Davis knew this, but here he said he only just found out. Once the feds he been knew, he later said he mis-remembered. This video is a beauty in  diminishing what little credibility and sympathy people were eking our for the department.

Transparency and Accountability

Up until now, first hand accounts are evasive.  Those on the scene have not provided any statements to the public.  Zero statements have been provided by officers who responded to Bomenka’s 9-1-1 call.  We haven’t even heard the call!  Some details has been provided through the media relations person and from the commissioner at the time, Kevin Davis. And even that information has not been reliable.

Dispatch audio notifying officers of the emergency was released and provides the most insight.  Other primary source material promised has not materialized like the audio of Suiter’s voice on radio. Baltimore residents aren’t likely to fall for the okey-doke.  They will demand that information be provided, especially the Body Worn Camera (BWC) footage of responding officers and the full autopsy results.

Remaining Puzzle Pieces

  • Dispatch sent officers to Bennett and Fremont and had difficulty finding the crime scene.
  • Early reports indicate that the male suspect was probably injured.
  • Medical units were advised of a second victim at the scene and aware that Suiter had been transported.
  • No details on Suiter’s accompaniment, a driver, a companion, etc when transported by car to University of Maryland Shock Trauma
  • No details on the car accident encountered en route to hospital.
  • No details on whether Suiter was conscious or if CPR or any medical performed during transport.
  • Officer’s gun and officer’s radio is back in the alley where he got hit, but Suiter gone.
  • Davis in discarded suicide altogether when asking FBI to take over the investigation
  • No shell casings observed at the scene by first responders.

The most crucial element to supporting suicide is that evidence must prove Suiter fired all the shots and there was no struggle for his gun.  This will be the complete opposite of what says said to be known facts for much of the investigation.  Davis has repeated often that  confusion reigned because officers were unsure the direction of the shots. Bomenka was delayed in providing aid because he was seeking shelter across the street.   Also, Davis insisted Suiter was involved in a violent struggle and that possibly the suspect was injured.

They have to explain why they thought the suspect was initially injured, but the casings are key.  Davis took deliberate pains to explain how the return to the scene after the autopsy gave him additional insight. Conveniently when the media cordon was lifted, officers “discovered” a shell casing in clear view of a television camera, completed with mime-quality acting.

Next Man Up – Commissioner Darryl De Sousa

Mayor Catherine Pugh announced she was terminating Kevin Davis from BPD on January 19, citing escalating violence, namely murders in the city.  She never mentioned Davis’ handling of Suiter’s case for cause or even presiding over the department during the FBI investigation that landed an entire special operations unit in the pokey. Instead, she left taxpayers on the hook for his $150,000 severence.

 

pugh and de sousa
Body language of Mayor Catherine Pugh speaks volumes in announcing her appointment to the city’s top cop.

In promoting De Sousa, Mayor Pugh admittedly has not had any lengthy or repetitive conversations with then Commissioner Davis about the investigation into Det. Suiter’s death.  Instead, she cited her impatience with “getting the numbers down.” However,  when she did  view of grainy video prompted her support of the request for the FBI to take over the investigation. The FBI declined.

In the lead up to his eventual confirmation, Commissioner De Sousa told Brian Kuebler in an exclusive interview his plans to have a new set of eyes. The independent agency is a secret, too.  When the reporter asked, very comfortably De Sousa refused to disclose any details without much pushback from the reporter.

As for his views on the death of Suiter, Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said, “I have an idea, but I’m not going to share right now.”

Showing that the more things change, the more they stay really the same.

Bennett SkyView

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