Investigation into allegations of rogue police raid broadens

The investigation of a Baltimore homicide detective, accused of conducting an unauthorized search at an apartment while looking for his missing teenage daughter, has broadened as authorities seek to determine whether other law enforcement resources were used to aid the search.

According to law enforcement sources, city investigators are trying to determine whether officers improperly used phone-tracking technology to help find Detective Daniel T. Nicholson IV's 15-year-old daughter, who ran away from home Friday. She contacted authorities on Monday and said she was safe.

Police also want to know whether other officers were part of the search at a Northeast Baltimore apartment. Occupants reported to police that several men entered the apartment Sunday night, and Nicholson was picked out of photo lineups.

Police confirmed that a 911 call was taken for an aggravated assault in the 5500 block of Bowleys Lane on Sunday night, but said the report was unavailable because it had been flagged by internal affairs, which is taking the lead in the investigation of the case.

It is not clear whether or to what extent supervisors were aware of the search; that also is part of the investigation, the law enforcement sources said.

The department declined to comment on the status of the investigation Wednesday. Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said investigators are looking at "a lot of different things, both operational and administrative, that could've been involved."

Nicholson's attorney, Catherine Flynn, would not comment on what specific actions Nicholson had taken but said he denied wrongdoing and "anticipates the investigation will exonerate him of these allegations."

The city police union president defended Nicholson, saying what he did "is no different than what any concerned parent would do."

"He went out to find his missing daughter and make sure she was safe," said Robert F. Cherry, the union president and a former homicide detective. "In the end, I think the facts will prove that he did not abuse his position or his power. He did what every American, what every parent, should do: Keep their kids safe."

Nicholson was the lead detective in the missing-persons investigation of Phylicia Barnes, the North Carolina teenager who was later found dead in the Susquehanna River. The case is unsolved, but investigators worked round the clock in the early stages of the case, and Nicholson said at the time that the case hit close to home for him as a father.

"The same effort and energy he put into locating Phylicia Barnes, you can see him doing the same for his daughter," Cherry said.

Nicholson's family had been having problems, however. On Wednesday, Baltimore County police released a September 2011 report in which the teenage daughter said Nicholson beat her on two occasions.

In that case, Nicholson was charged with second-degree assault. The charges were later dropped on the condition that the family attend counseling.

The county police report says that according to the girl, Nicholson visited her school and took her out of class, citing a "family emergency." He was angry that she had a Facebook account, and struck her multiple times on the buttocks and forearms with a coaxial cable, the girl said.

She said that on a second occasion, a male friend had called her on the house phone, and when Nicholson found out, she was again struck with the cord, according to the report.

The girl told a guidance counselor, who then contacted police, the report said. Nicholson, through an attorney, declined to speak with the investigator, records show.

Police said the girl went missing Friday without money or her cellphone after a dispute over "her grades and her activity in some social networks."

The city Police department released a missing-persons flier for the daughter, though the case was being handled by Baltimore County authorities. Guglielmi said the dissemination of the flier, by two officers close to Nicholson, was "inappropriate."

In its missing-persons report, county police noted that Nicholson "works for the Baltimore City government" and "will be able to expedite" and get "resources needed from the city and contact us with any new information."

Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for the county police, said the girl contacted authorities Monday and told them she was safe. Armacost said the Department of Social Services was investigating the case.

Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Hermann contributed to this article.