Michelle Wilson, the Baltimore Police deputy commissioner whose hiring was announced just two days ago, is not joining the department after all.
Baltimore Police would not say whether the abrupt reversal has anything to do with Wilson recently signing a sworn affidavit questioning the truthfulness of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Wilson’s statement — and an earlier Facebook post she has since deleted — contradict Mosby’s account of a key issue in a lawsuit filed against her by a former city prosecutor.
The announcement comes two days after Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison named Wilson, an assistant Maryland attorney general, to a top position overseeing police misconduct investigations.
“Michelle Wilson will not be joining the Baltimore Police Department. Because this is a personnel matter, based on the advice of the city solicitor, we cannot comment further,” police spokesman Matt Jablow said in a statement.
Jablow said Harrison would not comment on the matter. When asked whether anyone from Mosby’s office had contacted Harrison about Wilson, Jablow declined to comment.
He said no replacement has been chosen. City Solicitor Andre Davis also declined to comment.
Wilson did not respond to requests for comment.
The decision is the first big misstep for Harrison since he took over the department earlier this year.
Harrison, an outsider from New Orleans who became Baltimore’s top cop earlier this year, is rebuilding his command staff and has been looking nationally for talent to help him shift the department’s culture and institute federally mandated reforms under the consent decree. He introduced Wilson on Tuesday as a deputy commissioner in charge of the public integrity bureau and Michael Sullivan, the deputy police chief in Louisville, Kentucky, as the deputy commissioner in charge of the operations bureau. Both were to complete Harrison’s executive team of four deputy commissioners, three of whom are civilians.
“I’m an outsider brought in to effect change,” Harrison told The Baltimore Sun. “I’m not tied to any influences.”
During the announcement for Wilson and Sullivan, Harrison praised them for their credentials and expertise, and said that it’s been challenging to bring top talent to Baltimore given the recent upheaval at City Hall.
Harrison said at the time that Wilson's statements about the lawsuit against Mosby brought by a former prosecutor would not affect Wilson’s work for the police department.
“I’m confident that the entire integrity bureau will work collaboratively and efficiently,” and it will “hold ourselves and our members accountable,” Harrison said.
A spokesman for Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young said the mayor has been very clear that it's up to Harrison to build his team as he sees fit.
City Council President Brandon Scott said Thursday he does not have input on the department’s hiring decisions.
“What I will tell you, when asked, I informed there was an issue,” he said. But he said it was up to Harrison to decide how to proceed. Ultimately, “they have to deal with the consequences,” he said.
Scott said he wants to make sure the police department and the state’s attorney’s office have a good relationship. “It’s about reducing violent crime,” he said.
Melba Saunders, a spokeswoman for Marilyn Mosby, said Thursday the office was unaware of the decision to remove Wilson, but said the office is willing to collaborate with anyone to reduce violent crime.
“We try to work well with whoever,” she said.
Former city prosecutor Keri Borzilleri sued Mosby in Baltimore Circuit Court claiming she was fired as retribution for supporting the political campaign of then-State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, whom Mosby beat in the 2014 primary election.
Borzilleri’s attorneys claimed Mosby made a “throat-slitting gesture” toward another former prosecutor and Bernstein supporter at a banquet for the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys.
Wilson wrote a Facebook post during the trial that said Mosby “lied on that witness stand under oath.” She later deleted the post.
Mosby has denied the claim during the trial, and jurors returned a verdict in her favor. But Borzilleri has since filed a motion for a new trial, and Wilson filed a sworn affidavit.
The decision not to proceed with Wilson is the latest quick reversal in hiring decisions in the city, which has prompted officials to reevaluate the hiring process for candidates for high level positions, city solicitor Davis said last year.
Two officials under former Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned last year after questions were raised about their backgrounds. Darryl Strange, a spokesman, quit just hours after being introduced at City Hall when The Baltimore Sun inquired about three lawsuits filed against him when he was a police officer. In May, Charles G. Byrd Jr., the civil rights director, resigned after The Sun inquired about his disbarment as an attorney.
Ivan Bates, a local defense attorney who ran against Mosby in the state’s attorney race, and has been a vocal opponent of hers, said Thursday he was disappointed to see Wilson would no longer be joining the department.
“This is a sad day for Baltimore because I’ve had cases with Ms. Wilson, and I found her to be of the highest moral integrity,” he said. He said he thought Wilson was being unfairly treated because of her comments about Mosby.
“It appears Ms. Wilson filed an affidavit where she called out a criminal act by a public figure, and from looking at this now, she stood up in the stop snitching culture,” Bates said. She lost the job because “we’re playing politics and the citizens lose again.”
A spokeswoman with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office declined to comment when asked if the office would be investigating the allegations against Mosby, citing the pending litigation, and she declined to respond to Bates' comments. She could not immediately say whether Wilson would remain with the office.
Wilson had been representing the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services at the attorney general’s office.
Wilson would have been the highest-ranking woman in the department, and the first African American woman to serve as a deputy commissioner.