Several admitted drug dealers have testified in the ongoing trial against Baltimore police officers who are charged with corruption. The trial adds to a growing list of criminals shedding light on the level of police misconduct.
Baltimore Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor face federal racketeering charges in U.S. District Court. They were members of the Baltimore Police Department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force—but now the two men are on the opposite side of the law. They’re accused of robbing suspected drug dealers of thousands of dollars. Several other officers from the task force have pleaded guilty, with some cooperating with prosecutors.
“This right here destroyed my whole [expletive] family! Everybody’s life is destroyed because of this. I’m in a divorce process because of this. … My kids are afraid to go in the house!” Ronald Hamilton testified on Wednesday (Jan. 31) in a Baltimore courtroom, according to the Baltimore Sun. He told jurors that the officers dragged him out of his car and robbed him of $3,400 from his pocket before going to his home and taking another $25,000.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing unique about this case. Police corruption, especially since the rise of the illegal drug trade in the 1970s, is more widespread than many admit. This Baltimore case comes on the heels of similar ones in Chicago and Detroit.
In December, a Cook County court dismissed the drug convictions of 15 men in Chicago who testified that members of a special Chicago Police Department unit framed them. The cops took money from the suspects before making arrests. In one instance, the officers stole money from an FBI informant. In the 2016 Detroit case, an admitted drug dealer testified that he routinely gave information to three officers—he nicknamed them Curly, Hater and Bullet—who helped him steal money and drugs from other dealers.
Revelations about police misconduct in Baltimore led judges to dismiss dozens of cases that were handled by the unit. The trial is now in its second week.