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Federal gun case dropped after challenge to East Baltimore police search

In a rare move, federal prosecutors have dropped a gun case involving a man suspected of attempted murder, after the defendant's attorney moved to suppress evidence claiming police misled a judge.

Curtis Brogden, 27, of Rosedale, who police have said took part in a shootout in East Baltimore in April 2015, had faced attempted murder charges in state court — the third time he has faced such charges — and firearm charges in federal court. All the cases have now been dropped.

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"The conduct of Baltimore City police officers in this case violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution," Brogden's attorney, assistant federal public defender Deborah Boardman had argued in court papers. "Police entered a home without a search warrant, illegally obtained evidence from the home, and then used that illegally obtained evidence to secure a warrant to further search the home they entered unlawfully."

A hearing on the motion was slated for Thursday. On Friday, federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander to dismiss the case and for Brogden to be released from custody.

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Prosecutors did not state a reason and declined to comment.

In 2012, another first-degree attempted murder and gun case against Brogden was dropped in Baltimore Circuit Court. In 2005, he was charged with first-degree attempted murder, and pleaded guilty to first degree assault and was sentenced to about four years in prison.

After arresting Brogden on the attempted murder warrant, they entered a home he had been seen leaving in the 2500 block of E. Federal St., and asked the occupants to sit down and checked the couches for weapons — a move cited as an officer safety precaution. But Boardman said the check amounted to an illegal search, and ended up forming the basis for obtaining a search warrant that turned up a handgun in Brogden's room.

"His detention is unlawful, because the only evidence against him was seized illegally," argued Boardman, who did not respond to a request for comment.

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In April, Brogden suffered a broken thigh after being shot in the 600 block of N. Glover St. Investigators determined there were spent casings from two different firearms, and Brogden had gunshot residue on his hands. Police also said a witness said Brogden was involved in a "shoot-out," though Boardman said the witness was unable to identify Brogden in a photo lineup.

The attempted murder charges were dropped by city prosecutors shortly after they were filed, but an indictment on gun charges continued and was picked up by federal prosecutors.

Police used the discovery of the gun during the securing of the residence as a basis for the search warrant, which was approved by District Court Judge James Green. Officers executing the warrant searched a room that contained Brogden's belongings, and found a loaded .357 caliber handgun with a partially obliterated serial number.

Boardman said police had another address for Brogden, and committed a "material omission made intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth that was designed to mislead Judge Green."

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