Baltimore police say McKenstry's traffic tickets have not been dropped, are 'in transit' to court

Baltimore Police on Friday said the five traffic tickets issued to the chair of a police oversight panel during a traffic stop last month have not been dropped, and aren’t showing up in online court records only because they are still “in transit” to the court.

“I can confidently say the charges were not dropped and the tickets must still be being processed by hand,” said T.J. Smith, a police spokesman. “The person who receives the tickets has a responsibility to request a court date or pay the tickets.”

The Baltimore Sun began asking questions about the status of the tickets this week, after obtaining body camera footage from the April 13 traffic stop of Marvin McKenstry, chair of the Civilian Oversight Task Force.

The panel was established under the city’s consent decree with the Justice Department to assess and recommend improvements to civilian oversight of the city police force. McKenstry, associate minister at Victory House of Worship Church*, was appointed by Mayor Catherine Pugh.

During the traffic stop, the footage of which was published by The Sun on Friday, McKenstry declines 60 requests for his license and registration from Sgt. Terrence McGowan before turning over his license and informing the sergeant that he did not have his registration.

During the interaction, McKenstry sought to get Inspector General Ed Jackson on the phone. Jackson, a retired Baltimore Police colonel, served on the oversight panel with McKenstry before being rehired by the department in February to head its Office of Constitutional and Impartial Policing.

McKenstry told The Sun this week that the tickets had been “resolved,” but wouldn’t say how they had been resolved.

Thomas Wenz, a judiciary spokesman, said the court receives hand-written traffic citations from police in batches, and those related to McKenstry’s April 13 stop may not have been received yet.

Wenz said the most recent batch of 125 to 150 citations was received on Wednesday, and contained citations ranging from March 15 to April 14, but did not include the April 13 citations against McKenstry.

Smith, the police spokesman, said the fact the citations were not filed yet with the court three weeks after they were written was a function of Baltimore’s “antiquated process” for handling traffic tickets.

“We didn’t drop any charges,” he said. “Things like this happen, where you don’t get timely information on something that would be simplistic in other jurisdictions.”

He did not provide a timeline for when the tickets might be received by the court.

McGowan gave McKenstry a $60 ticket for stopping in the middle of the street, a $50 ticket for refusing to give him his license, a $50 ticket for not having his registration, a $290 ticket for “willfully disobeying a lawful order,” and a $50 ticket for refusing to sign the tickets.

There was one other ticket against McKenstry in the most recent batch delivered to the court, but it was unrelated to the traffic stop with McGowan. It was a single $90 ticket for “unsafe lane changing” from the day prior to the stop by McGowan, court records show.

Mayor Catherine Pugh has called the confrontation “unfortunate” and one that “could easily have been avoided,” but also said it was “apparently resolved.”

When asked how it had been resolved, a mayoral spokesman said Pugh “was under the impression that it had been resolved,” but referred questions seeking clarification to the police department.

The police union has called on Pugh to “reconsider” McKenstry’s appointment.

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun

This article has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly described McKenstry's position at Victory House of Worship Church.
Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
77°