A federal jury has convicted two Baltimore Police detectives for their roles in one of the biggest police corruption scandals in recent memory.
Detectives Daniel T. Hersl, 48, and Marcus R. Taylor, 31, were found guilty of racketeering conspiracy and racketeering. The convicted officers join six of their former colleagues who previously pleaded guilty in the case, four of whom took the stand at the trial and testified for the government.
Here’s what local officials are saying about the verdict.
Acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said in part in a statement: “With the guilty verdicts having been rendered in the case of Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) will move to terminate their employment with the agency upon final conviction.
“We recognize that this indictment and subsequent trial uncovered some of the most egregious and despicable acts ever perpetrated in law enforcement. I am thankful for the FBI and the BPD internal affairs division for their professionalism while preparing this case. During the course of the trial, we have had a team of people monitoring the proceedings. We have created a new Corruption Unit that will focus, specifically, on this case and the allegations that were made, but were not part of the indictment or prosecution. Let me make it clear: I have ZERO TOLERANCE for corruption.”
Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement: “The verdict rendered by jurors in this disturbing trial is clearly the right one, given the abundance of compelling and damning evidence against these former officers of the now disbanded Gun Trace Task Force. I want all of our citizens to know that I have likewise been appalled by the level of dishonesty and betrayal that these individuals, and others also implicated, perpetrated here in our community. There is no more important element to effective policing than trust between the men and women of our police force and those they have sworn to protect and serve.
“The shocking issues revealed in hours of testimony are precisely the reason we forged ahead with the Department of Justice Consent Decree this past year. They are why we have instituted our daily Violence Reduction Initiative meetings at police headquarters. They are also why we have launched our Call to Action community meetings. They are why we have accelerated our efforts to reduce violence in our city and why I have appointed new leadership at Police Headquarters.
“I am confident that this sordid chapter of policing culture can be closed as we work each and every day to re-establish the trust and confidence that our citizens need and deserve to have in their police officers. Toward this end, we will be relentless.”
Gov. Larry Hogan’s spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said “he believes corruption must be exposed and rooted out wherever it occurs.”
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said in a statement: “The facts revealed during the GTTF Trial were not only deeply disturbing but further highlighted the concerns I asserted in the dismissal of the remaining Freddie Gray cases. Baltimore is in need of significant reforms within our criminal justice system and we must collectively strengthen our efforts to regain public trust. Police corruption is a hindrance to public safety, degrades trust in the criminal justice system, and puts the lives of hard working and dedicated officers at risk. Therefore, we must continue to drive out corruption and shine a light on callous criminals that dishonorably wear a badge.”
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said in a statement: “Today's guiltily verdict sends a clear signal that there is zero tolerance for officers who violate the public's trust by breaking the law. The testimony outlined during the trial was sickening and painful for our city. The despicable and criminal acts that came to light during the course of this trial underscore why I have for years pushed for meaningful and lasting reforms to public safety. That work will continue at an accelerated pace, as my colleagues and I look to reform policing at the city and state levels.”
City Councilman Brandon Scott, chair of the public safety committee: “The first thing I think about is all the lives that they ruined, all the families they’ve caused harm, the damage to the city and the police department, all of this in the wake of them thinking they were higher than the law.
“It’s reassuring that the justice system did work in this case, and they are going to be punished for the things that they did.
“What I’m thinking about now is tracking down all of the other allegations, tracking down anything else that was mentioned in the process of that trial. Because if there are more people involved, and more people who were basically allowing this to go on, ignoring it for years … they also have to be held accountable.”
Del. Curt Anderson, chairman of the city’s House delegation in Annapolis, said he hopes the verdict “will send a message to police officers across the state, across the country, that you are placed in a position of trust and we expect you to be better than the average citizen.”
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore, said jurors “did the right thing. We need to get rid of every bad apple.”
Sen. Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore, said: “The question is whether it stops with the verdict. … I don’t think the verdict will be the end. It’s too bad and it’s too ugly and it’s gone on for too long.”
Del. Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, said: “I’m happy there’s finally some justice – that the jury did their job and found them guilty because it’s shameful what the officers did and they should be held accountable.”
Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the local police union that represents rank-and-file officers: The officers’ convictions “show you that nobody is above the law. If you break the law, you’re going to have to pay just like everybody else.”
He said the actions by the unit is “disgraceful,” and that the “rogue group” is not representative of the police force overall or its other members.
“Most Baltimore city police officers are out to help people. That’s why they take this job. They’re very professional, and they do their job as best they can.”
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement: “Beyond the guilty verdict and prior guilty pleas in this case, it’s time to talk about what comes next for the city of Baltimore. This corruption went on unabated for nearly 10 years and was only brought to light as a result of a federal investigation. Neither City Hall, BPD’s Internal Affairs, nor the State’s Attorney’s Office was able to uncover and hold accountable the officers at the heart of this criminal conspiracy. Residents deserve new procedures, practices, regulations, safety valves, and training across city agencies – including the State’s Attorney’s office – to ensure that this cannot happen again.
“Far too often, the voices of community members are disbelieved or dismissed. Going forward, city leaders, law enforcement officials, and the media must be diligent in centering conversations about policing around residents’ lived experiences. It shouldn’t take federal investigations to recognize and trust the community.
“It is critical that the community’s mistrust of law enforcement, which has been validated by these proceedings, is understood and that structural changes are made well-beyond just the BPD.”
Ray Kelly, director of the West Baltimore-based No Boundaries Coalition: “This exposure of the corruption and the BPD will be a catalyst for the new commissioner. … There’s no better time than to validate the consent decree and why we need it.
The guilty verdict, Kelly said, “broadens the radius of what we are holding accountable. We have dept commissioner resigned over this corruption. Everybody should be monitoring [the police department]. We don’t want to let this generational moment slip past us.”