Prosecutors Wipe Out 790 Convictions Due To Corrupt Cops
In what has become a much more common occurrence across Canada and the United States, Baltimore’s State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, has started the ominous task of having the courts throw out almost 800 cases as a result of the actions of 25 corrupt cops in that city. An investigation revealed significant reasons to distrusts over a dozen cops in addition to eight police convicted in what is termed the Gun Trace Task Force scandal.
The number of officers involved in the scandal continues to fluctuate as more information is learned. While clarifying that more corrupt officers continue to be discovered, the State Attorney indicated that more cases would likely be brought back to court to be tossed out.
Throughout the investigation, ten officers have resigned, one took early retirement and the other was fired. Another officer who was discovered to have been involved was shot dead two years prior while on duty. These officers have not been criminally charged, but Mosby said that her officer has not choice but to ask for the convictions to be overturned to uphold the integrity of the justice system:
When you have sworn police officers involved in egregious and long-standing criminal activity such as planting guns and drugs, stealing drugs and money, selling drugs, making illegal arrests, and bringing false charges, our legal and ethical obligation in the pursuit of justice leaves us no other recourse but to right the wrongs of unjust convictions associated with corrupt police officers.
Prosecutors have begun the arduous task of asking judges to throw out almost 800 convictions that hinged on the investigations or testimony from the dirty cops.
Of the 25 police officers, eight are former members of the gun squad, who were convicted of racketeering crimes and sentenced to federal prison terms from 7 – 25 years. Of those eight, 6 pled guilty and two were found guilty at trial. At trial, officers testified about their own crimes and implicated other police officers who have yet to be charged with any criminal offences. The convicted officers admitted to stealing money, lying on paperwork and falsifying overtime pay.
Mosby had this to say about police corruption:
Police corruption is a hindrance to public safety, puts lives of hard working and dedicated officers at risk, and limits our ability as prosecutors to deliver justice.
Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced earlier this year that she would review hundreds of cases connected to Baltimore Police officers caught up in a sweeping federal criminal investigation. On Thursday Mosby announced that 22 current and former officers were so tainted that she will move to dismiss nearly 800 cases they handled. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)
An Out of Control Task Force
The task force was originally meant to get guns and violent criminals off the streets of Baltimore. Baltimore’s murder rate has soared over the past several years with 343 killings in 2017 which brought the city to a record high rate of 56 homicides per 100,000 people. In an investigation spanning several years, members of the task force were found to have been fuelled by corruption. Citizens were set-up for baseless searches, people were robbed and toy guns were kept in police vehicles to plant as evidence to justify searches or shootings.
- Illegal use of GPS trackers to chase targets for robbery.
- Drive police vehicles directly at groups of people and then chase whoever ran away to give a pretense for a search.
- Robbed a couple of $20,000 after gaining information that they kept large sums of cash in their house. The couple wasn’t alleged to have committed any crime and the money was not thought to be illicit.
- During a search of a drug house, stole $100,000 from a safe.
- During the Freddie Gray riots, one officer stopped a looting at a pharmacy, seized the stolen drugs, gave them to a drug dealer and split the profits.
- Illegally seized a gun and a large quantity of marijuana then sold them on the street.
In total, the corrupt officers stole at least $300,000 in cash, three kilograms of cocaine, nearly fifty pounds of marijuana, 800 grams of heroin and jewelry worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. In addition, many of the officers made fraudulent overtime claims including one officer who spent a month remodelling his house while getting paid and another who claimed overtime while on vacation.
Distrust of Police Breeds More Crime
It is a terrible travesty that police officers who have sworn to serve and protect citizens instead robbed, terrorized and contributed to so many wrongful convictions. It is this kind of conduct that breeds cynicism in the justice system and causes the crime rate to escalate. Rather than spending police resources on investigating crime on the streets, those precious resources are spent investigating police conduct. It also causes communities to not turn to police for help and take matters into their own hands or simply look the other way.
Cory Wilson is a Calgary criminal lawyer serving clients in all of Alberta. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or are a suspect in a criminal investigation, call today for a free, no obligation consultation.