A Baltimore police officer who faced three sets of criminal charges this year - including two rape cases - was convicted yesterday of a handgun violation and of fleeing and eluding police.
Circuit Judge John Carroll Byrnes, who sentenced Officer Jemini Jones to a suspended three-year prison term and three years of probation, said Jones' behavior was "reprehensible" and that he should not be a police officer.
The convictions will be a "blight" on Jones' police career," Byrnes said. "And I cannot honestly say that I have any regrets about that."
Jones, 29, is suspended with pay. A Police Department spokesman said that an internal investigation continues. Jones was part of the Southwestern District "flex squad," an aggressive group of narcotics officers that was disbanded in January 2006 amid an investigation into an alleged rape in the station house.
In January, a city jury found Jones not guilty of that rape charge. Two months later, prosecutors dropped charges in a case in which he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman during a police search of her boyfriend's apartment.
Jones was stripped of his police powers, meaning he could not carry a weapon and could not make arrests, while those two cases were pending, and that is when, in October, another city police officer says he saw Jones run a red light at East 33rd and Frisby streets.
Officer Curtis Brown says he flipped on his lights and siren but that Jones continued to drive, running several stop signs and driving the wrong way down a one-way street. When Jones stopped, the officer said, a search of his car turned up a .40-caliber Ruger handgun.
Jones said the gun is legally registered to his brother and that he kept it when his brother moved to Pennsylvania. Jones said he had the gun in the rear of his car because death threats related to publicity about the rape charges had left him fearful.
Jones and Brown testified at a pretrial motions hearing this week. Jones said after court that the two were in the police academy together.
Brown said he found the gun not in the rear of Jones' car, but "on the console." The statement of charges Brown filled out indicated the gun was "in the console."
Those discrepancies and other issues with his testimony led the judge to say that Brown is "not credible" - indicating that prosecutors could have a tough time proving their case in court.
At that point, Assistant State's Attorney Douglas B. Ludwig and defense attorney Janice L. Bledsoe brokered a deal.
Jones did not plead guilty, partly because he is planning to appeal Byrnes' decision to admit the gun as evidence after what the defense called an illegal search of the car. But Jones did not contest a statement of facts that Ludwig read in court, and Byrnes then convicted Jones. If Jones is successful on probation, Byrnes can erase the two misdemeanor convictions from his record.
After court, Jones said, "I'm tired. ... It's been a long year.
Previous coverage of the flex squad at baltimoresun.com/flexsquad