A Baltimore police officer caught on tape last year beating a suspect went to prison this year. A veteran police sergeant filmed allegedly arresting, threatening and harassing innocent men faces a slew of charges. And more officers tied to the Gun Trace Task Force were charged or sentenced in federal court.
A violent 2019 in the city was also a busy year for prosecutors, internal affairs detectives and others charged with policing Baltimore’s police. Court records, sentencing memorandums and Baltimore Sun archives show that at least 20 Baltimore police officers — including some who are no longer with the department — were either charged, sentenced, or suspended during 2019.
The scope of the crimes and allegations are broad and follow a particularly notorious 2018, which included federal arrests and trials of officers of the GTTF, and another officer charged with drug trafficking. This year’s charges range from drunken driving to an officer being sentenced to five years in prison after nearly running over a man in a crosswalk, then drawing his gun after the man spilled tea on his car.
Baltimore police officials say they are working to address not only problems in the department, but also to become more responsive to members of the public. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison released a staffing plan last week that calls for more than doubling the number of internal affairs detectives to help reduce backlogs and respond more swiftly to complaints against officers.
“Rebuilding the Department’s relationship with the community and restoring the public’s trust in the Department are among Commissioner Harrison’s highest priorities," police spokesman Matt Jablow wrote in a response to questions from the Sun. "That’s why he has placed such a heavy emphasis on building a culture of accountability and providing officers with the necessary training and support to make BPD more efficient, effective and responsive.”
The list of officers below includes some who were charged last year but not tried or have reached plea deals until this year. It also includes officers sentenced to prison and officers who have been suspended without additional information provided by the department.
Officer found guilty off viral video
Former Baltimore police officer Arthur Williams, 26, was found guilty of second-degree assault in June after body-camera footage that went viral showed him punching a man several times in East Baltimore back on a sidewalk in 2018. The victim, Dashawn Mcgrier, suffered a broken jaw, broken ribs and other ailments while spending three days in a hospital.
A video surfaced online of a Baltimore police officer repeatedly punching a man.
From the bench, Baltimore Circuit Judge Yolanda Tanner said Williams’ “repeated blows to McGrier were without justification." She sentenced him to 9-months in jail after finding Williams guilty of second-degree assault and official misconduct.
Multiple charges for a sergeant
Sgt. Ethan Newberg, a 24-year veteran, was charged with assault, false imprisonment and misconduct after chasing bystander Lee Dotson, who complained about police tactics on another man officers detained during a warrant check in May. Last week, prosecutors tacked on 32 new, but similar charges after reviewing video taken from Newberg’s body warn camera over several months.
Body camera footage from the first arrest shows Newberg charging towards Dotson, who reacted by saying: “I’m not running away.” A second officer tackled Dotson to the ground while the man shouted he was exercising his right to free speech, the tape showed.
When Dotson asked why he was being arrested, Newberg is heard saying: “Just go to jail and take your charge like a man."
All charges against Dotson were dropped, while Newberg’s is out on bond pending trial on the old and new charges.
Moore, a 14-year veteran with the department was placed on unpaid suspension before his guilty plea and is no longer with the department. Court records show he received probation and a suspended prison sentence.
During the January incident, Kevin Miller stepped out to cross the highway where he was nearly hit by Gentil’s civilian car. Prosecutors said Gentil failed to yield to Miller walking across the street.
After some of the tea hit Gentil’s car, he pulled a gun out and ordered Miller to get face down on the pavement. Gentil resigned in October after working on the force for 24 years.
Heilman, 27, was fired from the department in 2018 after passersby saw him found slumped over in his car in the early afternoon in Pigtown. A Breathalyzer measured Heilman’s blood alcohol level at 0.22, about three times the legal limit.
A jury convicted O’Sullivan, 44, in October after finding he lied in court about a criminal case. He testified under oath that he witnessed Yusuf Smith toss a handgun while running from officers on The Alameda in May of 2018. Prosecutors found that it was not possible that O’Sullivan could have witnessed the handgun being tossed.
O’Sullivan remains suspended from the police force.
Gondo, 36, was a member of the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force and was the only officer in the case to be charged as part of two separate criminal conspiracies, originally facing a possible sentence of 60 years.
In his plea, Gondo admitted acting as a lookout during a home invasion, stealing money during arrests and searches as an officer, arranging the sale of a seized gun and marijuana, and taking thousands of dollars in unearned overtime pay from the city.
Gun Trace Task Force fallout: Jemell Rayam
Former Baltimore cop Jemell Rayam was sentenced to 12 years in prison in May for robbing people over the course of a decade as a part of the final sentencing for members of the Gun Trace Task Force.
Rayam at one point gave guns and police uniforms to friends and had them break into a home where Rayam was aware of $20,000 being inside. He also stuck a gun in a woman’s face during a separate break-in incident in which guns, drugs, cash and jewelry were taken.
Baltimore police did not provide specific reasons why Pitocchelli was suspended.
Pitocchelli was then recently assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division where she earned an annual base salary in 2018 of $87,000, and a total of $198,000 with overtime, according city salary records.
Pitocchelli made more than former Mayor Catherine Pugh, who was the city’s 55th highest-paid worker.
Gun Trace Task Force fallout: Carmine Vignola
Baltimore Police Detective Carmine Vignola pleaded guilty in September for lying to a federal grand jury, admitting that he helped retrieve a BB gun to plant and cover up for the leader of the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force.
Vignola, a 12-year veteran, was the 14th person caught in the massive police sweeping corruption scandal. Vignola was not a member of the task force but was accused by prosecutors of planting the gun to justify a wrongful arrest by the squad’s leader.
Vignola faces sentencing ranging from probation to five years in federal prison and is no longer with the department. He is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
Ex-commissioner jailed on tax beef
Former Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison in New Jersey after pleading guilty in April to failing to file federal tax returns.
Convicted after strip club fracas with another officer
Sgt. Marlon Koushall arrested a fellow police sergeant outside of a strip club in August of 2018. But soon he was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct while in office, and the other officer - a partier in the club - had all of her charges dropped by prosecutors.
Koushall was charged with assault assault after being accused of striking fellow officer Sgt. Henrietta Middleton and faces up to 10 years in prison.
Cell phone video outside of the Custom House Avenue strip club around 1:20 a.m., showed an officer pulling Middleton, who was off-duty, to the ground by her shirt collar. A third officer came over and intervened
Charges again officer involved in strip club brawl filed, dropped
In April, assault charges were dropped against officer Middleton after she and other off-duty officers were accused of being drunk during a bachelorette party outside Norma Jean’s strip club on The Block.
Middleton’s charges were dropped eight months after the 2018 incident.
Gaff ordered a male passenger out of a vehicle in South Baltimore and pushed and hit the man when he failed to show his identification, according to prosecutors. Gaff originally wrote in a police report that the man resisted arrest, although body camera footage captured a different narrative, according to Baltimore Sun reports.
Gaff was found guilty of misconduct while in office but found not guilty for second-degree assault. Gaff was hired by the department in 2013.
Sgt. Brown, 43, was charged with driving a Baltimore City vehicle while under the influence of alcohol after a crash in Hartford County in 2018 and with carrying a handgun while under the influence, according to court records.
Maryland police responded to the crash on northbound I-95 in the Edgewood area, according to State Police. The driver of the second vehicle in the crash was taken to the hospital for minor injuries.
Snell, 34, worked in the Baltimore police department from 2005 to 2008 and was working as an officer in Philadelphia at the time he was arrested. When he was arrested, federal agents found unregistered assault rifles, cocaine residue, and razors in his home.
Prosecutors obtained text messages that showed conversations between Snell and family members dating back to 2014.
Officer beats, Tasers a teenager
After tackling a teenager and beating him with his taser in 2016, Carlos Rivera-Martinez was convicted of second-degree assault and misconduct in office in May.
Rivera-Martinez, 32, was found guilty by a Baltimore City Circuit Court jury for beating then 16-year-old Melvin Townes in the face and head repeatedly with his taser after chasing him on North Gay Street at about 2 a.m. on July 5, 2016.
The incident was caught on close-circuit television footage after the strip clubs on The Block in the 1400 block of Baltimore St. let out and police were clearing the area. Townes had stopped while passing through the area when officers were arresting a person.
Rivera-Martinez had continuously hit the teen with his taser despite Townes stopping, turning around, kneeling and putting his hands in the air. When he was indicted, Rivera-Martinez was suspended without pay. He was later dismissed from the department.