BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Robert Vicosa’s troubles began years before the former Baltimore County police officer carried out a multi-state crime spree that ended Thursday with the deaths of Vicosa, his young daughters and Tia Bynum, a police sergeant, according to disciplinary records obtained by WJZ.
Records show Vicosa was the subject of five internal affairs cases over a 13-year span, including one two years ago involving sexually inappropriate behavior that led to a demotion. The police department recommended that he be fired following the conclusion of that investigation, but a trial board decided to keep him on the force.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Mild Saturday, With Temps Dropping Sunday
WJZ obtained the records as a result of Maryland police reform legislation that became law in October. Anton’s Law, named after 19-year-old Anton Black who died in police custody in 2018, requires that certain records of police misconduct be made public.
Vicosa, his 6- and 7-year-old daughters Aaminah and Giana, and Bynum were found fatally shot in a sport-utility vehicle Thursday in western Maryland in an apparent murder-suicide. Their deaths brought an end to a days-long crime spree in Pennsylvania and Maryland that began with the sexual assault of his estranged wife and his daughters’ abductions.
The internal affairs records date back to October 2007 when Vicosa, then known as Robert Brown, was accused of failing to appear in court two months earlier. He accepted a written reprimand in that case. In a similar case in 2008, he agreed to forfeit one day of leave time.
It was a decade later in 2019 when Vicosa, then a sergeant, became the subject of a complaint that he behaved inappropriately around three female subordinates. An internal investigation supported claims that he watched inappropriate videos around them, made sexual remarks and leered at them.
At Vicosa’s request, that case was brought before a trial board, which found him guilty of five of the six allegations. Despite the department recommending Vicosa’s termination, the trial board instead chose to demote him from sergeant to officer and dock 45 days of his leave time, the records show.READ MORE: Health Officials Urge Vaccination & Boosters As COVID-19 Rate Rises, Omicron Arrives In Maryland
In March, Vicosa was accused of insubordination and sleeping on the job. Allegations in that case were supported by an internal investigation. A trial board found him guilty in that case and determined that he should be fired. He was terminated from the police department in August, the agency confirmed.
Dr. Jeffrey Ian Ross, a criminologist with the University of Baltimore, said union contracts make it tough for law enforcement agencies to get rid of problematic officers, even those with documented issues.
“Those incidents that happened over the last few years were red flags and I’d be curious to know what kind of additional scrutiny he was under over the last two years,” Dr. Ross told WJZ.
Yet Ross noted there’s nothing in Vicosa’s disciplinary file that would have signaled he was capable of this week’s violent crime spree — taking his estranged wife captive at gunpoint, kidnapping the couple’s daughters and carjacking multiple people before he was found dead Thursday.
Bynum, a Baltimore County Police sergeant and friend whom authorities believe aided Vicosa while he eluded police this week, had one internal affairs case in her disciplinary file. Records show she was cited for a 2013 crash involving a police vehicle that led to the loss of one day of leave time.MORE NEWS: Maryland Has Three Confirmed Cases Of The Omicron Variant Of COVID-19, Hogan Says
“There’s lots of details there that we just don’t know that may have happened short of the officer coming before a trial board,” Ross said.