Baltimore’s spending board approved a $300,000 settlement Wednesday to end a lawsuit brought by rapper Young Moose against convicted former Gun Trace Task Force Detective Daniel Hersl.
The settlement was approved unanimously by the Board of Estimates with Kevron Evans, better known as Young Moose.
Deputy Solicitor Ebony Thompson told the board that the settlement was a good value for the city considering damages could have reached $400,000 in the case.
“Because this matter would be heard by a Baltimore City jury, based on the facts of the case, Hersl’s history and reputation, any settlement below the statutory cap we believe is a win for the city,” she said.
Filed last March in Baltimore Circuit Court, the complaint sought $1.5 million in damages for Evans, 28, accusing Hersl and other officers of planting drugs on the performer, applying for warrants based on false allegations and illegally arresting him. The officers’ persistent harassment robbed Evans, a Baltimore native, of lucrative music endeavors and tarnished his reputation, according to the lawsuit.
Hersl is serving an 18-year sentence in federal prison after a jury convicted him in 2018 of racketeering crimes related to the Gun Trace Task Force corruption scandal. He was accused of stealing money during his time with the notoriously rogue group of cops and beforehand. Hersl is incarcerated at an administrative security federal medical center in Springfield, Missouri.
More than a dozen officers involved with the task force were charged and convicted, and hundreds of criminal cases brought by the officers were dropped or vacated. The city has paid more than $10 million already to settle numerous lawsuits related to actions of the task force. City lawyers said Wednesday about 30 lawsuits were filed, six of which remain pending.
Evans had complained about Hersl trying to derail his musical career before filing a lawsuit. Once, police used lyrics and images from one of the rapper’s videos in a statement of probable cause for his arrest and took him into custody as he was about to take the stage at what is now the Baltimore Arena — the former Royal Farms Arena.
Mayor Brandon Scott, one of five members of the Board of Estimates, said Wednesday the settlement and the behavior of Hersl and his task force colleagues are evidence that Baltimore cannot return to police tactics of “moving in and touching anyone Black and Brown in our city.”
“For those that have a creeping in their heads that this is what we need to go back to, this is why we can’t,” Scott said. “Innocent people have been done wrong, and the city is paying millions and millions and millions of dollars because of actions from folks who took things too far and took things into a criminal enterprise of their own.”
Council President Nick Mosby, also a member of the board, said the actions of the Gun Trace Task Force severely undermined policing in the city.
“The gross incompetence and irreparable harm certain members of the police department has caused on the city of Baltimore as it related to citizen involvement and engagement is completely unacceptable,” Mosby said.
Comptroller Bill Henry questioned why Baltimore has been paying for Hersl’s defense expenses post-conviction. Solicitor Jim Shea said the city is required to cover the expenses under the city’s police contract, but it also can be in the interest of the city, he said.
“The problem is the city ends up being responsible for the conduct in a civil setting, and if that officer is not well-defended, the exposure increases,” he said.
Mandy Miliman, an attorney representing Evans, said she was pleased the city agreed to settle the case rather than forcing Evans to endure a trial.
“No amount of money will ever compensate Mr. Evans for what he’s been through: sitting in jail for years, having to hire lawyers, having to fight for his reputation, which he fought so hard to earn, and not being believed by anyone that he’s innocent,” she said.
Evans’ lawsuit recounted his arrest outside a bar on Oct. 12, 2012. Several police officers handcuffed Evans and took him to Hersl, who was waiting at another location. Hersl opened the trunk of his car, got something out of it, searched him — despite his fellow officers saying they’d already searched Evans — and said he found crack cocaine, according to the suit.
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Evans faced three felonies from the arrest and accepted a plea on the advice of his attorney. A judge handed down a suspended sentence and probation. The office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby vacated Evans’ conviction in 2020 during the review of hundreds of cases involving the convicted and disgraced Gun Trace Task Force officers.
Nine other officers were named in Evans’ lawsuit, which will be dismissed with the approval of the settlement.
Miliman said she believed the mayor’s statement Wednesday oversimplified a complex problem. Reforming the Baltimore Police Department is not a matter of just overhauling particular practices, she said.
“In addition to planting evidence and putting people away for crimes they didn’t commit, these officers were allowed to commit extensive overtime fraud and steal from the residents of Baltimore city without any supervision and without getting caught for years,” she said. “They were allowed to roam free, not just when it came to arrests and manufacturing charges, but in terms of stealing money from the department without limit.”
Timothy Sutton, an attorney for Hersl, said his client maintains his innocence and noted Hersl’s alleged actions detailed in the lawsuit predated his time on the Gun Trace Task Force.
“He is not a signatory to the settlement. The settlement is between the city and Mr. Evans.” Sutton said. “The city had to make a decision based on the cost of litigation and the possibility of a verdict and they made their decision.”
Baltimore Sun Reporter Alex Mann contributed to this report.