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Crime

After court battle, Marilyn Mosby releases list of 305 Baltimore police officers with credibility issues

A Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office list of more than 300 Baltimore police officers with credibility issues, many of whom continue to be called to testify in court, has been made public for the first time after a court ordered its release last fall.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby told a state policing commission in December 2019 that she maintained a list of police officers about whom she had concerns regarding their integrity and whether their testimony in court could be trusted.

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“These are integrity issues. They pertain to theft, planting evidence, perjury, corruption and fraud,” Mosby told members of the state Commission to Restore Trust in Policing at a meeting at the University of Baltimore Law School.

Attorneys with the Baltimore City Office of the Public Defender have expressed concerns for years about officers on the list being allowed to testify in court.

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Deborah Katz Levi, the director of special litigation for the city public defender’s office, called Wednesday on Mosby to disclose even more information about the officers.

“Ms. Mosby needs to disclose why these officers are on the list, when they got on the list, and she needs to review the hundreds of cases in which they have testified, without any disclosures, since being on the list,” Levi said.

In a statement Wednesday, state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Zy Richardson said defense attorneys have “always been notified” about the officers, following a 2018 agreement with the city solicitor’s office.

The identities of the 305 officers are now public after Baltimore Action Legal Team, a community nonprofit known as BALT working to make the legal system more accessible to the public, won a lengthy court battle to force the state’s attorney’s office to release its list.

“There is no accountability without transparency,” said Iman Freeman, executive director of BALT, which provided the list to The Baltimore Sun. “This request for this list is just one part, just one tactic in our entire campaign.”

The newly released roster of 305 names approximately triples the number of names on a list Mosby’s office released in October 2021. Unlike the October list, the vast majority of people on the new list still are employed with the Baltimore Police Department, according to a comparison of BALT’s list and city salary records.

The list of roughly 100 officers released in October was what’s commonly referred to as a “do not call” list of officers that her office would not call to testify, but most of the officers listed no longer worked for the police department.

Before BALT sued Mosby’s office for the list, she said she wanted to release the full list but could not because it was technically a personnel record under the Maryland Public Information Act. However, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals disagreed, ordering her in October 2021 to release the list. She did not release the full list to BALT until Wednesday.

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Even after the Court of Special Appeals ordered her to release the list, Mosby refused through Richardson.

“Many have allegations that were unfounded and unsubstantiated,” Richardson said in October 2021. “It would therefore be unfair and unethical to publicly release those names.”

On Wednesday, Baltimore Police spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge said the department recently received a copy of the disclosure list from the State’s Attorney’s Office, which she said “includes members that have mere allegations or information that could be used to impeach them in court.”

The list, she said, is distinct from a “do not call” list.

“Under Commissioner [Michael] Harrison’s administration, our Department continues to be accountable and transparent in taking appropriate actions when complaints are made against members, especially those that may rise to misconduct,” Eldridge said.

While the list does advance transparency, Freeman called it incomplete. Absent is any description of the behavior or incident that created the credibility concerns in the first place, and without that information, it is impossible to determine exactly what the issue is with each officer, Freeman said.

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BALT and other organizations plan to analyze the list in the coming days to expound on the initial findings, Freeman said.

Freeman said officers with impeachable credibility harm the criminal justice system because so much of prosecution relies on officers telling the truth.

“An officer’s credibility props up the system and if one actor in the system has decided these officers aren’t credible to stand trial, then what else? What else do we depend on their credibility and integrity for?” Freeman said.

Police leadership previously downplayed the existence of the list, with Deputy Commissioner Brian Nadeau telling the state commission in 2019 that most of the officers do not have credibility issues.

“Nobody on that list that I wouldn’t have working on the street, making cases,” Nadeau said in 2019.

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He said at the time that many of the officers named were subjects of complaints that were not sustained.

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Mosby was adamant in that hearing, telling the commission her office discloses members of the list to the police department so “hopefully they don’t put that officer in a position where he has to come in and testify.”

Her office later clarified Mosby’s comments, saying the list does not mean those 305 officers can’t testify, just that they have information in their past that requires disclosure to defense attorneys in criminal cases the officers are involved with.

“These folks are shared with the defense counsel automatically,” Richardson said Wednesday.

In reality, Levi said, the disclosures are not automatic and are often not made, despite what Mosby’s office says.

The fact that officers on the list are allowed to testify at all, and the lack of transparency about what landed them on the list to begin with, are serious issues, Levi said.

“The continued reliance on these officers and lack of disclosure violates discovery rules and ethical obligations, and directly causes harm to the citizens of Baltimore and the criminal justice system,” she said.


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