Baltimore’s spending panel is set to pay nearly $2.5 million to resolve lawsuits from 11 men and one woman who say they were either wrongfully searched, falsely arrested, robbed or beaten by rogue police officers, nearly all working in the Gun Trace Task Force.
The Board of Estimates is scheduled Wednesday to approve the money in a second wave of payments to settle complaints about the corrupt police squad. These new payments push to $2.7 million the amount paid so far to 21 people who sued.
Baltimore attorney Latoya Francis-Williams said these settlements are long overdue considering the police department was handing out awards to the officers even as they robbed people on the streets. Francis-Williams holds city officials responsible, saying they turned a blind eye to such conduct.
“It’s high time that they atone for the city’s behavior,” she said.
Her client, Garfield Redd, is set to receive the biggest settlement: $500,000. Redd was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in 2007 for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. The money resolves a federal lawsuit he filed four months ago in which he says police planted the gun on him. Redd remains in prison.
“We’re grateful that Mr. Redd is able to put this portion of his tragic event behind him, but he is still on the path to clearing his name,” Francis-Williams said.
Eight former members of the Gun Trace Task Force were convicted of racketeering and sentenced to federal prison. The officers — six accepted plea deals, two were found guilty — stole money from citizens, lied on paperwork and bilked the city for unearned overtime pay. A ninth cop, one in Philadelphia, was also convicted in the case. These men are serving federal prison sentences that range from seven to 25 years. Dozens of people have sued the city over the officers’ actions. Amid the fallout, federal prosecutors charged several other police officers with ties to the convicted cops.
Last month, the Board of Estimates approved $253,000 to nine people who said they were victimized by the officers.
The latest round of settlement payments also includes $400,000 to Dawud Morris who served about five years in prison on gun charges. He says the officers faked a search warrant and planted the gun. The settlements include $300,000 to Shawn Whiting, who spent three years in prison on drug charges and says police stole $24,000 in cash while searching his home. And the settlements include $165,000 to Blanton Roberts, who served two years in prison after he says police planted a gun on him.
City Solicitor Dana Moore did not return a message Monday. Her office considered each case individually before recommending the board approve the payments, they wrote in the Board of Estimates agenda.
“As with all lawsuits, the Law Department analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of each case upon receipt of the Complaint,” the attorneys wrote. “We believe these settlements to be in the best interest of both the City and the plaintiffs who may have been harmed by the misconduct of former GTTF members.”
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