The former Eastern Shore police chief who alleged “virulent” racial discrimination within his department was sentenced to three years of supervised probation Tuesday after being convicted of misconduct in office.
Kelvin Sewell, the former Pocomoke City police chief who was fired in 2015, was sentenced to three years in prison by Worcester County Circuit Judge W. Newton Jackson III, all of which will be suspended in favor of the three-year probation sentence, the state prosecutor’s office wrote in a news release.
Sewell had been charged with obstructing a traffic accident investigation, which prosecutors say involved Douglas Matthews, a local corrections officer.
The case touched a racial divide in the predominantly black Eastern Shore town, as many of the town’s residents rallied around Sewell after he was initially fired with no public explanation.
The former small-town chief has worked since 2016 for the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office. Today, he works as director of criminal investigations and earns about $69,700 a year. He remains employed with the office, spokeswoman Melba Saunders said. She declined to comment on the case. Sewell, 56, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
He spent more than 20 years with the Baltimore Police Department, retiring as a sergeant in the homicide unit in 2010. He joined the Pocomoke City Police Department on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the next year was elevated to chief — becoming the town’s first black top cop.
Sewell eventually sued Pocomoke City, alleging the department had an “unchecked pattern and practice of virulent” discrimination and that the city had forced him out after refusing to fire two black officers. The city settled the federal lawsuit in March and agreed to reform its police policies and training.
In the misconduct case, prosecutors alleged the former chief ordered a subordinate to improperly document an November 2014 incident in which Matthews, the corrections officer, had crashed into two parked cars and prevented the incident from being investigated.
In a news release, State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt wrote that Matthews crashed “with such force that a car was totaled” and that when investigators arrived at the scene, Sewell ordered a subordinate to document the crash as an accident instead of a hit and run or DUI investigation.
Prosecutors said that Sewell then let Matthews drive home on three wheels.
Barry Coburn, Sewell’s attorney, said the former chief was satisfied with the sentence.
“We are gratified that Judge Jackson devoted so much time and careful attention to Chief Sewell’s sentencing,” he said.
Sewell was previously convicted of the charge in 2016, but he appealed and was granted a new trial by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals for the opportunity to call an expert witness. He was convicted again of the misconduct charge on May 14.