Attorneys release video from Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force raid; criticize state's attorney for inaction

Attorneys seeking to link the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office to a failure to curb crimes being committed by the Gun Trace Task Force have released video from a 2016 raid on a luxury Canton condo where a convicted detective has admitted an expensive handbag was stolen.

The video shows Sgt. Wayne Jenkins walking to a front desk wearing no discernible police gear. They say Jenkins can be seen trying to talk his way into the apartment, then returning with a police vest slung over his shoulder and accompanied by Detectives Momodu Gondo and Daniel Hersl, who waves paperwork at a security attendant.

Defense attorney Tony Garcia said prosecutors were unable to turn over a copy of the warrant signed by a judge and dragged out the case, dropping it at one point and re-filing the charges. All charges were eventually dropped after the officers were indicted on federal racketeering charges in March 2017.

“The State’s Attorney’s Office allowed the case to continue knowing there was no warrant,” Garcia said. “They let that case languish … Why does it have to sit around for months and months and months, and why afterwards do we have to listen to Mrs. [State’s Attorney Marilyn] Mosby pretend she didn’t know about it?”

The State’s Attorney’s Office countered that there was “overwhelming evidence” against the two people arrested and lamented that the case had to be dropped following the officers’ arrests.

“Unfortunately as part of our thorough, on-going and extremely onerous review of all cases related to the now convicted former GTTF officers, we had to dismiss these charges in the interest of justice,” spokeswoman Melba Saunders said in a statement. “This is yet another example of hundreds of cases where police corruption has impeded our city’s ability to deliver justice on behalf of its citizens.”

Defense attorney Ivan Bates represented April Sims, whose home was raided in the Canton case. He said prosecutors’ statement ignored the serious problems with the case. Bates said Sims is a successful hair stylist with multiple locations throughout the city, and was targeted by the officers because of the car she drove. On a wiretapped phone call played during the Gun Trace Task Force trial, Jenkins refers to two luxury vehicles he had been watching.

The drugs found inside the home did not belong to Sims, Bates said. He believes the officers never obtained a warrant.

“The State’s Attorney is defending the Gun Trace Task Force and saying the ends justify the means. And we wonder why we have police corruption in Baltimore City,” said Bates, who is running for state’s attorney in the upcoming primary election.

At Wednesday’s event, attorney Joshua Insley pointed to leaked files spread out on a table that show other complaints and investigations against some of the officers charged in the Gun Trace Task Force case.

“Does anybody seriously think if the feds hadn’t indicted [the Gun Trace Task Force] that they wouldn’t still be on the street right now?” Insley said.

The Canton case took place in July 26, 2016. Jurors in the Gun Trace Task Force trial earlier this month heard a wiretapped phone call where Jenkins excitedly tells Gondo about his plans to raid the home after watching what he believed to be suspicious transactions. Jenkins says on the call that a judge told him he had enough probable cause for a warrant.

“It’s gonna be legit!” Jenkins says on the recorded call.

He then tells Gondo that only the two of them and Hersl will be involved. All three officers have been convicted of a series of robberies using their authority of their badge. Officers testified that Jenkins sought out high-level targets he believed would have money.

Gondo testified that before they arrived at the apartment, Jenkins, believing his car might be bugged, stepped out and told the others that he thought there might be $40,000 to $50,000 inside the home that they could steal. Gondo said Hersl replied, “I can use the money, I’m in the process of buying a house.”

Bates said as Sims left the condominium complex to go to a club she was pulled over and then let go, which Bates believes was an effort to get her exact address and ensure she would not be inside.

The officers found heroin inside, but no money, Gondo said. The inventory from the search lists 390 grams of heroin and gel caps, a digital scale, boxes of a substance used as a cutting agent, and plastic baggies, all of which the officers said were found on the dining room table.

Gondo said Hersl took a Chanel bag worth $5,000, and used it to carry out the heroin, then gave it to Gondo to give to a woman he was seeing. Federal prosecutors say they recovered the purse from that woman. Charging documents make no mention of a Chanel bag being taken.

Sims did not appear at the news conference, with the attorneys saying she was fearful. A call placed to her Monument Street business was not returned. A man identified as her husband Damon Hardrick who was also arrested could not be reached for comment.

jfenton@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justin_fenton

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