An former Baltimore Police detective testified Tuesday that several corrupt Baltimore cops kept fake guns in their cars to plant on suspects in case they were ever accused of a "dirty shooting."
Maurice Ward, who is a former member of Baltimore's Gun Trace Task Force — the group now involved in an ongoing corruption trial in Maryland — told the jury that while on duty with the Task Force, he noticed that several of his colleagues kept BB guns and other fake weapons in their glove compartments. Ward claimed they kept the toys “in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them," according to the Baltimore Sun.
Although Ward was unable to say whether Baltimore cops had actually ever planted a fake weapon on a dead suspect, at least one of the defendants, one of Ward's fellow detectives, was found to have a fake gun in his glove compartment following his 2015 arrest.
Six members of the Task Force have already pleaded guilty to racketeering. Two others, Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, remain on trial for everything from robbery to faking evidence.
Witness testimony in the case has been shocking.
On Thursday, a Baltimore bail bondsman testified that the unit was a "front for a criminal enterprise" and that officers with the unit would frequently sell drugs they confiscated from suspects. Ward testified last week that officers would often "prowl the streets for guns and drugs," knocking on doors until they found someone who ran. They would then give chase, search and confiscate contraband.
In some cases, they'd — allegedly — keep the drugs and resell them.
In one incident, police took a man’s house keys, ran his name through databases to find his address, went into the home without a warrant and found drugs and a safe. The officers cracked open the safe, which had about $200,000 inside. They took $100,000 out, closed the safe back up, then filmed themselves pretending to open it for the first time. “Nobody touch anything,” Jenkins can be heard saying on the video, which was played for jurors.
Witness testimony includes a litany of police abuses, from stealing evidence to fabricating warrants.
The testimony comes as a shocking reminder that law enforcement abuse is still an issue in this country, even though the political back-and-forth about widespread police brutality has long-since quieted.