A second Baltimore Police detective been charged with abusing his position to help extort and kidnap a contractor who had done work on the home of another officer, according to Baltimore County Court records.
Juan A. Diaz, 46, of Columbia was indicted this week, more than a month after homicide detective James Lloyd was charged with extorting, kidnapping and threatening to arrest a home contractor whose work he was unhappy with. Prosecutors alleged that Lloyd drove his victim to a bank and ordered him to withdraw money for a refund after threatening to arrest the man.
Diaz had been identified previously as one of four Baltimore police officers present during the confrontation with the contractor.
But Tony Garcia, an attorney for Diaz, called his client a reputable officer who is innocent.
“We categorically deny that he’s done anything criminal whatsoever,” Garcia said in an interview Friday. “We’re looking forward to the day in court when he can tell his side of the story.”
Garcia described Diaz as an honest cop with a sterling reputation, an officer who has help close some of Baltimore’s worst crimes.
“He’s dedicated his life to helping people, and has helped put away dozens of the worst types of criminals,” Garcia said.
Diaz was among the officers who solved the gruesome murders of three Latino children, ages 8, 9 and 10, found beaten with their throats cut in their family’s apartment in Northwest Baltimore in May 2004. The investigation revolved around an extended family of immigrants who had come to Baltimore illegally from Mexico. Two men were convicted of conspiring and carrying out the murders and sentenced to life and 30 years in prison, respectively.
Lloyd, 45, of Gwynn Oak was suspended without pay by Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, who also ordered an internal affairs investigation. Additionally, Harrison said the three other officers who were present during the confrontation had been assigned to administrative duties.
The contractor, Luis Torres Hernandez, declined to comment Friday through his attorney, Bobby Zirkin.
“What happened to him is outrageous,” said Zirkin, adding that he has has filed a notice of intent to sue the department over the incident but has not yet filed a civil lawsuit.
He said his client is cooperating with police and prosecutors and “is just trying to live his life. He is family guy and a hardworking guy.”
Lloyd at the time told county investigators that the other officers with him were Diaz, Manuel Larbi and Troy Taylor, according to charging documents, but online court records only listed charges against Diaz on Friday.
Baltimore Police spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge said Friday that Diaz was suspended without pay after the felony charges were filed, which she added was the most action the department could take under the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights statute. The law provides police officers with certain due process protections and is currently being scrutinized by state legislators who are debating reforms to increase police accountability across the state.
Eldridge said Larbi and Taylor, who have not been charged, remain on administrative duty with their police powers suspended due to the ongoing investigation.
County police said the incident occurred June 25 and was reported to police the same day.
Lloyd, a 21-year city police veteran who was the lead detective on the investigation of the death of Detective Sean Suiter, was upset with a patio that a contractor had built, county police said.
He demanded a refund and confronted the contractor with information about his driver’s license being suspended, saying he could arrest him, according to charging documents.
“You are going to give me my money back, and I’m going to give you freedom,” Lloyd told the contractor, the document said.
Then, police said, he made the victim get into Lloyd’s car. The victim told police that he feared being arrested and complied with Lloyd’s demands of going to the bank and getting a certified check for the refund, officials said.
Diaz was hired by Baltimore Police in 2001 and earned $138,000 last fiscal year, which included overtime and his annual base salary of $87,900, according to city salary records.
Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Prudente contributed to this article.