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Man who alleged 2009 robbery by eventual Gun Trace Task Force officer files lawsuit

A man who reported to internal affairs in 2009 that Baltimore police officers robbed him of $11,000 has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, one of three new civil cases filed by his attorney against officers connected to the Gun Trace Task Force this week.

Gary Brown’s case was reported by The Sun in 2017, based on leaked documents that showed Det. Jemell Rayam failed a polygraph exam and misled investigators about contacts with another officer alleged to be involved in the robbery. Rayam continued to work as an officer and was elevated into the elite plainclothes squad.

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Rayam, who pleaded guilty in the Gun Trace Task Force racketeering case in 2017 and was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, later admitted in testimony at another GTTF trial that he participated in robbing Brown. No one has been criminally charged in that incident.

Brown’s case is one of three filed Monday by attorney Josh Insley. Another is based on allegations that date to 2007.

“The age of these cases speaks to the commitment the BPD has to keep bad cops on the streets in their never ending pursuit of statistics,” said Insley, who has filed other pending lawsuits against members of task force. “Even though they knew years before the indictments that there was a pattern and practice of civil rights violations, they concealed these violations to keep people like Wayne Jenkins and Danny Hersl on the street.”

City officials said earlier this month that there were at least 26 lawsuits pending that involved the GTTF officers. Those claims are on hold as the parties await a ruling from the Court of Appeals about whether the city has to pay judgments against the officers, who city attorneys call a band of criminals acting far outside the expectations of the police department. Plaintiff’s attorneys say the department pushed officers in special plainclothes units to rack up stats and ignored misconduct or warning signs.

Insley also filed a case on behalf of Eric Rich, who in 2007 was arrested on a gun charge by Det. Daniel Hersl. Just one week earlier Rich had filed an internal affairs complaint against Hersl, alleging that Hersl had threatened to plant a gun on him.

Rich’s gun case was indicted in federal court, where in a rare move federal prosecutors dropped the charges as Rich’s defense attorney sought access to Hersl’s internal affairs files.

Hersl, who went to trial in the GTTF case and was convicted by a jury, was sentenced to 18 years behind bars. In letters from prison, he continues to maintain his innocence.

It may be some time before Rich can collect on a potential civil judgment: He was indicted by federal prosecutors last year, and pleaded guilty last week to selling crack to a confidential informant working with the ATF.

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The third case filed Monday by Insley involves the 2016 arrest of Avon Allen by eventual GTTF Sgt. Wayne Jenkins and detectives Maurice Ward, Evodio Hendix and Marcus Taylor. Allen claims a gun was planted on him and that the officers beat him.

Allen’s criminal charges were first tried in Baltimore’s Circuit Court, resulting in a mistrial when jurors deadlocked. Federal prosecutors then took the case, but dropped it within weeks with the GTTF indictments looming. The case was re-filed in Circuit Court, and then dropped by city prosecutors after the officers were charged.

Hundreds of criminal cases have been dropped or overturned due to prosecutors saying they can no longer stand behind claims made by the GTTF officers and others accused of misconduct at the federal trial.

Attorneys for the officers who pleaded guilty in the GTTF case have denied the civil claims brought against their clients that do not involve specific incidents from the criminal case. They say the former officers outlined their crimes as part of their cooperation agreements, and called the other claims baseless.

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