A retired Baltimore police sergeant has been indicted on federal civil rights and witness tampering charges related to a 2014 incident in which a BB gun was allegedly planted on a man, in the latest development in the Gun Trace Task Force scandal.
In light of the indictment, the Baltimore Police Department announced Tuesday that four officers had been suspended and would be investigated by the Internal Affairs unit.
Former Sgt. Keith Gladstone is accused of delivering the fake weapon after Sgt. Wayne Jenkins ran down a man named Demetric Simon with his vehicle. The indictment also says that after Jenkins’ indictment in the Gun Trace Task Force case, Gladstone told another officer that if questioned by federal investigators, they should lie and say they were only there for “scene security.”
Gladstone, of New Park, Pa., turned himself in Tuesday on federal charges of conspiracy to deprive civil rights, conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States and witness tampering.
He pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance, according to his attorney, David Irwin. Irwin said Gladstone was a “decorated veteran” but declined to comment further.
If convicted, Gladstone faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Current and former officers have told The Baltimore Sun that Gladstone was viewed as a mentor to Jenkins, who is serving 25 years for an array of crimes including drug dealing and robbing citizens for years. Meanwhile, Gladstone himself had been long chased by accusations of misconduct that never stuck, including being admonished by a federal judge in 2003 and found liable by a civil jury for assaulting a man during the 2015 unrest following the death of Freddie Gray.
Gladstone retired from the department in 2012, then returned to the department a year later and retired again just weeks after the Gun Trace Task Force indictments in 2017.
“Prosecuting criminals who work in police agencies is essential both to protect our communities and to support the many honorable officers whose reputations they unfairly tarnish,” said Robert K. Hur, the U.S. Attorney for Maryland. “This is not about policing, it is about criminal conspiracy.”
Simon told The Sun last fall in an interview from prison that he was driving through Northeast Baltimore on March 26, 2014, when Jenkins and another officer, Benjamin Frieman, suddenly pulled up behind him. He had drugs on him and got out of the car to flee.
In charging documents filed at the time, Frieman wrote that Simon pointed a gun at the officers, and that Jenkins ran into him with his vehicle. The statement of charges says that Jenkins later found a BB gun under a nearby vehicle. Simon was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Simon told The Sun that the BB gun was planted.
“I never had no BB gun,” Simon said. “I never aimed nothing at him. He ran me over because I was getting away.”
At the Gun Trace Task Force trial, a cooperating officer testified that Jenkins advised his officers to carry toy guns to plant on people in case they got into a situation where they would need to justify their actions.
The new charges say Gladstone was on duty having dinner with “Officer 1” when he received a call on his cell phone from Jenkins, who was “in a panic because he had just deliberately run over an arrestee.”
Federal prosecutors say Gladstone got a BB gun from the trunk of his police vehicle and drove to the scene with the other unidentified officer.
There, Gladstone “dropped the BB gun near a pickup truck” near where Simon lay injured, prosecutors say. According to the indictment, Jenkins told another officer to move the BB gun closer to Simon. The new charges say that Jenkins — not Frieman — actually authored the false statement of charges for Simon.
Simon said he was taken to the federal courthouse last September and asked questions by a prosecutor as “about 30 people” looked on. He was not sure what type of proceeding it was.
Gladstone worked for many years in the department’s elite drug and gun squads. His career was also checkered with accusations of misconduct:
» In 2002, a man named Dewitt Thomas sued Gladstone alleging he was beaten with a stick and incarcerated for two hours without justification. A civil jury found in favor of Gladstone on all counts except one and awarded Thomas $2,500.
» In 2003, Gladstone was among the officers blasted by then-federal judge Andre Davis, who said city officers were “not making cases. They’re not building investigations. And I saw that with respect to Detective Gladstone. They are just making arrests.” Davis went on to become a federal appellate judge and is currently the city solicitor. That 2003 case also involved Det. Thomas Wilson, who was accused at the Gun Trace Task Force trial of providing paid private security when a drug dealer working with Jenkins met with a New York drug supplier at the Scores strip club.
» He was sued over a 2012 case, also involving Wilson, in which officers were accused of entering a man’s home without a warrant, which was captured on his surveillance system.
» In 2015, he was involved in the arrest of a man named Larry Lomax during the unrest that followed the death of Freddie Gray. A jury awarded $75,000 to Lomax, who was doused with pepper spray and pulled to the ground by his hair.
» After the Gun Trace Task Force trial, Jamal and Jovonne Walker came forward and alleged that Jenkins and Gladstone had robbed them of $20,000 in 2010.
» He is being sued for his alleged involvement in a 2010 incident in which Jenkins admitted that drugs were planted on a man named Umar Burley, who fled officers and got into a crash that killed an 87-year-old man in Northwest Baltimore.
Gladstone won at least two awards from the department, including in 2014 for tackling a suspect who allegedly fired a shot while holding up a business in Northwest Baltimore.
Salary records show Gladstone was paid $134,700 in fiscal year 2016 on a base salary of $94,850, and $132,200 on a base salary of $88,700 in 2015.
“They wanted to know what was up with the other officer, was he aware,” Simon said in a phone interview from prison. He is being held on separate charges that he claims Jenkins was also involved with.
Frieman resigned from the Police Department last month. He is not charged with any crimes.
Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced that the Gladstone indictment had prompted the suspension and Internal Affairs investigation of three officers. The reason why they were being investigated was not clear. Another officer referred to in the indictment was already subject to suspension and would be investigated.
“The allegations outlined today in court are beyond disturbing, and speak to a culture that I am here to change,” Harrison said. “We are working with our federal partners on this ongoing investigation.”
The Baltimore Sun obtained a memo sent out by city prosecutors Tuesday night that identified four officers who had been suspended: Ryan Guinn, Robert Hankard, Adam Storie and Carmine Vignola The memo said that the officers were not to be called as witnesses without approval from top leadership of the state’s attorney’s office.
Vignola worked with Gladstone from 2012 to 2017, and Hankard also worked with Gladstone prior to his second retirement. Guinn, meanwhile, was listed in the original investigative file as one of the officers who responded to the scene in 2014 after Simon was struck. Guinn has previously been invoked in prior allegations against Jenkins, and later identified in unsealed documents as a whistleblower who had flagged the FBI to two officers eventually convicted in the Gun Trace Task Force case.
Mike Davey, an attorney for the police union, declined to confirm those were the officers who had been suspended in connection with Gladstone’s charges, but addressed the suspended officers generally, saying: “We're confident that they had very little if any knowledge of any wrongdoing on behalf of Sgt. Gladstone or anyone else in the GTTF.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.