Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced this week that her office has identified “hundreds” of police officers suspected of misconduct that calls into question their credibility, and said she provided a list of their names to the police department.
Mosby made the announcement Monday night at a policing forum downtown, but she repeatedly declined to answer questions in the days afterward.
Video clips of her remarks spread online and captured the attention of defense lawyers in Baltimore.
Mosby told the crowd her office “created an internal sort of notification system. We notify the police department whenever there is a sustained allegation of credibility issues or even an allegation that isn’t sustained. So we will summarize whatever the issue may be, and then we provide that list to the police department for them to determine what they’re going to do with their employee ... There are hundreds of officers on that list.”
The police department last month received the names of 183 officers flagged by Mosby’s office, said Matt Jablow, a police spokesman. That list has not been made public, and she has not shared it with defense attorneys, a practice they say is required to ensure fair trials.
“We are aware of the list and the officers who are on it," Jablow wrote in an email. "Some of the issues involve current Internal Affairs investigations that could result in discipline, though there are many officers who are on the list despite allegations of wrongdoing that were not sustained.”
He did not comment further.
Mosby has declined to answer questions about the difference between these 183 officers and her assertion of “hundreds.” Her office canceled an interview Thursday with The Baltimore Sun, citing the death of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.
“It’s pretty disheartening that there may be hundreds, so to speak, of these officers,” said Ray Kelly, a member of the Community Oversight Task Force appointed by the city as part of the consent decree to recommend reforms.
Mosby did not describe the hundreds of officers as a “do not call list,” a practice of one of her predecessors who kept a roster of discredited officers whom they would not call to testify in criminal trials. Former State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy maintained a list of a few dozen officers; she did not release it publicly. She was succeeded in 2011 by Gregg Bernstein, who discontinued the practice. Mosby took office in 2015.
Public defenders in Baltimore say they would expect Mosby to turn over any list that raises questions about an officer’s credibility.
“We do not have any information about whether the State’s Attorney has compiled a list of officers with credibility issues,” wrote Melissa Rothstein, spokeswoman for the Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore, in an email. “If so, this would be classic Brady material, constitutionally required for disclosure, that we would expect to get a copy of.”
“Brady material” refers to information that may cast doubt on the credibility of a witness. Prosecutors are required to disclose this material to defense attorneys.
Warren Brown, a prominent defense attorney in Baltimore, had not heard Mosby’s comments, but he wants to know who she flagged.
“If she does have a list, she should publish it so we would know in case they [the officers] slip through the cracks and are called,” Brown said. “A lot of defendants plead guilty on the advice of their lawyer because it’s a police officer’s word against yours. I would love to know who’s on this list, so I could go back and see if they have testified in any of my cases.”
Last year, a judge in Philadelphia ordered District Attorney Larry Krasner to turn over his do-not-call list to the city’s defense attorneys. Reporters with the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News revealed the existence of his list; then defense attorneys demanded the 29 officers’ names.
Mosby spoke during a town-hall forum on policing hosted by the Players Coalition, a nonprofit founded by former Baltimore Raven Anquan Boldin and NFL safety Malcolm Jenkins to promote social justice and racial equality. Amelia McDonell-Parry, of the criminal justice podcast “Undisclosed," posted video online of Mosby’s remarks.
Baltimore police and prosecutors continue work to root out bad cops in the aftermath of the Gun Trace Task Force scandal. Eight former members of the gun squad were convicted of federal racketeering crimes and sentenced to prison for terms ranging from seven to 25 years.
The corruption trial brought forth a host of allegations against other cops and launched Mosby’s office on a yearlong review to uncover tainted cases. Her investigators found more than a dozen other officers to be discredited. They began asking the courts this month to throw out nearly 800 criminal cases that hinged, in particular, on 25 cops.
On Monday, however, Mosby told the crowd they have flagged “hundreds of officers” accused of misconduct.
“Some of these allegations were rather egregious, like GTTF,” she told the crowd. “That’s an extreme, planting guns and drugs on individuals. And yet, they were still employed, right? And they were putting us in a position where in essence we’re not going to call them, right? But it’s incumbent on the police department to do something with their employees.”
Defense attorneys, meanwhile, acknowledge Mosby’s office routinely discloses claims against officers, even if she hasn’t shared any lists.
Joshua Insley said he’s often called in to review the state’s attorney’s files on an officer. He reads the material on a computer screen but has to persuade a judge for permission to raise it during trial.
“Some of this stuff is downright mundane,” he said. “It will be like sleeping in your car from five years ago.”
Prosecutors and the city law department struck an agreement last year requiring officers who bring serious criminal charges against a defendant to disclose any misconduct allegations in their own internal affairs files.
The police department has struggled with a backlog of internal affairs cases. Investigators closed about 1,400 cases this year and found complaints credible in nearly one-third of them, according to statistics from the department. In addition, criminal charges are pending against more than a dozen officers.
In recent months, an officer was charged with misconduct for allegedly arresting a bystander who mouthed off. Another was sentenced to nine months in prison for throwing a barrage of punches against a man on the street. One cop got probation after citizens found him drunk and passed out in his car with the lights flashing. And a 24-year veteran was sentenced to five years in prison this week for pulling his gun on a man who threw tea on his new car.
Typically, officers are restricted to desk duty during internal affairs investigations. This further reduces the number of police officers fighting crime in the street. Baltimore has just under 2,300 sworn officers today, down from about 3,000 in 2012.
Reporters Jessica Anderson and Kevin Rector contributed to this article.