BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A disgraced former Baltimore City Police detective testified that supervisors condoned fraud and misconduct in the specialized, plainclothes units he worked, as long as officers were making arrests and taking illegal guns off the streets.
Detective Maurice Ward faced tough cross examination by attorneys representing his former partners in the now-defunct Gun Trace Task Force, Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor.
Detective Taylor’s defense lawyer Christopher Nieto got Ward to admit he had lied in more than five past cases, filed false statements of probable cause and lied to a prosecutor in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office.
“How many years would you say you’ve been a professional liar?” Nieto pointedly asked Ward before jurors.
Ward even admitted lying about his aunt being dead in order to get out of testifying in a court case where he’d taken money from a victim.
Ward also testified the GTTF had been tipped off by a “source within Internal Affairs” about the federal investigation into their illegal tactics. He said a partner of former GTTF leader Sergeant Wayne Jenkins also tipped off the unit. That officer remains on the police force, with former Commissioner Kevin Davis saying last month an investigation cleared him of wrongdoing. The mayor fired Davis last week.
The corrupt GTTF was celebrated–even awarded by a deputy commissioner for their work getting guns off the streets. They received a pin for seizing more than 130 weapons.
Former Detective Ward said his supervisor, Sergeant Jenkins, told the commissioner he was using “unlimited overtime” to keep the unit “motivated.”
Nieto referred to the “political nightmare” after the riots, with State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby “going on about how police are terrible.” The commissioner reportedly told Jenkins “to do whatever he had to do” to capture guns.
Violent crime and murder had spiked by that time in 2015, and Ward said there was a slowdown in enforcement among officers. Morale on the force, he admitted, was lower than it had ever been.
“It’s fair to say a lot of officers didn’t want to get involved,” said Hersl’s defense attorney William Purpura.
“Yes,” Ward answered.
“You were ripping and roaring because that’s what Jenkins liked to do. He never got tired,” Purpura said to Ward.
“Yes,” he replied from the witness stand.
Prosecutors say Detective Marcus Taylor carried a fake badge, which they showed to jurors. And they say he carried a replica gun inside his car, possibly to plant on an unsuspecting victim. It was a tactic condoned by Jenkins, according to testimony.
Jurors also heard from one-time drug dealer Shawn Whiting, who said some of the GTTF officers stole drugs and thousands of dollars from him. He said he feared if he resisted, police would shoot him.
Whiting testified he reported that cash and personal items were stolen to Internal Affairs and the United States’ Department of Justice. He initially had trouble identifying Taylor in the courtroom when asked to point him out.
Police said they are still looking into whether any officers currently on the force may have helped the Gun Trace Task Force.
The trial resumes Monday.
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