The long-term cost of the Baltimore Police Department’s notorious and disgraced Gun Trace Task Force to taxpayers just jumped by more than half a million dollars, the result of a newly-approved settlement with one of the gang’s victims.
I’m using the word “gang” here intentionally, to denote that the task force wasn’t just a group of rogue officers, but a corrupt, violent and organized group that terrorized neighborhoods, made money by stealing and selling drugs and banded together under a common uniform and name. In any other setting, law enforcement would’ve labeled them a gang, clique or even a mafia—and since words matter, we’ll call them what they are.
That aside, this specific gang that operated within the BPD has now cost the city north of $15 million as officials there continue to dole out payments for their reign of terror. This morning, the Baltimore Sun reported, the city’s powerful Board of Estimates unanimously approved a $575,000 settlement with a man named Darnell Earl, who spent 18 months in jail as the result of an encounter with three members of the gang.
Earl was a passenger in a car in October 2015 in the 1900 block of Monument Street that was stopped by police officers Marcus Taylor, Evodio Hendrix and Wayne Jenkins, according to Deputy Solicitor Ebony Thompson. Following the stop, the officers said they found a firearm under Earl’s seat. Earl had prior convictions for illegal possession of a gun and was charged with multiple firearms-related offenses as a result of the stop. He pleaded guilty to one charge, law officials said.
After revelations that the task force routinely violated people’s rights and stole drugs and money using the authority of their badge, Taylor, Hendrix and Jenkins pleaded guilty to federal charges. Earl’s conviction, along with many others related to the force, was vacated due to credibility issues with the officers.
Earl sued the department in 2020, alleging numerous violations of state and federal law, arguing there was no probable cause for the traffic stop and that the gun was planted in the vehicle by the officers.
Several members of the disbanded group, including two of the three officers involved, are still in prison for offenses ranging from robbing drug dealers to conspiracy to planting fake evidence on people who were later charged and convicted. The longest sentence went to Jenkins, who’s doing 25 years in federal prison in Kentucky. Thomas Allers, the former leader of the gang, id doing 15 years, but according to the Sun, is still receiving a pension from the city.
If that’s not enough, four more lawsuits related to the gang’s activity are still pending against the city, which means more taxpayer cash is likely to be spent to compensate their victims, even as the city faces a potentially expensive crisis in dealing with dangerous e. coli bacteria in its water system.