Baltimore's spending Board unanimously approved settlements totaling $195,000 for two victims of the disgraced police Gun Trace Task Force.
The GTTF officers were part of an elite unit that preyed upon people who they believed would never report them—and many are now in prison.
Both victims, Kyle Knox and Shaune Berry, allege drugs were planted on them and they wrongly served time in prison.
You can read the settlements here"
Justin Conroy, the deputy chief of Baltimore's division of legal affairs, said more cases are pending, "We currently have four cases in active litigation and another four active claims."
It comes just days after a scathing independent investigation into the cause of GTTF corruption. Asked by the comptroller whether the report could lead to more victims filing claims, Deputy Solicitor Darnell Ingram said, "I don't believe we can project what a plaintiff may or may not do."
Baltimore police commissioned the $4 million independent report.
City taxpayers have already paid out more than $13 million in GTTF-related settlements.
Council president Nick Mosby said the corrupt officers are still getting their pensions, and he called on the General Assembly to pass legislation to take them away. "We have to continue to push our colleagues in Annapolis to do the right thing and ensure we have the ability of going after folks' pensions," Mosby said. "And again with these settlements, it's not just coming from the taxpayers who were already wrongfully done by these individuals."
"This is literally money we are taking from a city with a tremendous amount of issues—systemic issues. …Every time we approve one of the settlements, that is taking away money from our citizens who have already been wronged," the council president said.
The independent investigation faulted a lack of accountability in the Baltimore Police Department at the time, saying leadership turned a blind eye to corruption as long as officers were making big arrest numbers.
"They didn't fear the consequences. There was an accountability system within the department that was viewed as non-threatening, and people didn't have to account for the misconduct they engaged in or even the corruption that they were engaged in. Internal Affairs, by whatever name it was known at the time, was a paper tiger," lead investigator Michael Bromwich told WJZ's Mike Hellgren.
The report also detailed years of dysfunction at City Hall and red flags about many of the now-convicted officers, including dozens of internal affairs complaints that were kept secret and largely ignored. "Widespread planting of evidence, framing defendants, home invasion, the kind of conduct you saw by these GTTF members over a period of time that really is shocking: The way they felt they had impunity to abuse people in Baltimore, to violate their constitutional rights, and they really didn't seem to fear until the very end that there would be any consequences for them."
He said Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, who lead the GTTF, made a former cellmate his representative—who strung investigators along—and was more interested in a movie deal than talking about the corruption.
"Here was one opportunity for them to help everyone including their colleagues in the police department and the public and the Baltimore community. Why did they do what they did? And they decided to pass on it, so you have to wonder whether they were really sorry after all."
But Bromwich praised Commissioner Michael Harrison's current reforms and is cautiously optimistic about the future. "I think the culture is changing, but it's like turning an ocean liner. It's very slow and it requires patience."
A virtual public consent decree hearing about police reforms is scheduled for Thursday.
for more features.