Thursday, May 23, 2019

Former Baltimore police sergeant indicted for planting gun and witness tampering

“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.”

Image Credit: WBAL-TV

A federal grand jury recently indicted former Baltimore Police Sergeant Keith Gladstone on federal charges of conspiracy to deprive civil rights, conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, and witness tampering. Shortly after the unsealing of the indictment, the Baltimore Police Department announced Tuesday that four officers had been suspended and would be investigated by the Internal Affairs unit in relation to this case.

On the evening of March 26, 2014, Sgt. Gladstone was having dinner with an unidentified officer when he received a phone call from Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, who was in a panic because he had just deliberately run over an arrestee named Demetric Simon. After retrieving a BB gun from the trunk of his patrol car, Gladstone and the officer drove to the crime scene to assist Sgt. Jenkins.

During an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Simon recalled Jenkins and another officer, Benjamin Frieman, pulled him over to conduct a routine traffic stop. Due to the fact that Simon had drugs in his possession, he fled the vehicle and ran away on foot.

In charging documents filed at the time, Frieman wrote that Simon pointed a gun at the officers, and that Jenkins ran into Simon 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.

But Simon told The Baltimore Sun that the officers planted the gun to justify hitting him with a patrol car.

“I never had no BB gun,” Simon told The Baltimore Sun. “I never aimed nothing at him. He ran me over because I was getting away.”

According to the recent indictment, Gladstone arrived at the scene and dropped the BB gun near a pickup truck where Simon lay injured on the ground, unable to use his legs.  Gladstone told Jenkins, in another officer’s presence, “it’s over by the truck,” or words to that effect, and told Jenkins to have someone search by the truck. Gladstone left the scene and drove away with the unidentified officer.

Based on a false statement of probable cause written by Jenkins in another officer’s name, Simon was subsequently charged with possession, use, and discharge of a gas or pellet gun, for the BB gun that Gladstone planted at the scene of Simon’s arrest, and a number of drug offenses. Simon was detained on those charges until at least April 2, 2014. On January 16, 2015, the charges were disposed of by nolle prosequi, which is a form of dismissal.

The indictment also alleges that after Jenkins and six other officers who had been members of the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) were arrested on federal racketeering charges, Gladstone told the unidentified officer that if questioned by federal law enforcement about the events on March 26, 2014, the officer should tell federal investigators that Gladstone and the officer were at the crime scene for “scene security,” which the officer knew was not true.

“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,” stated U.S. Attorney Robert Hur. “This is not about policing, it is about a criminal conspiracy.”

If convicted, Gladstone faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for conspiracy to violate civil rights, a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, and a maximum of 20 years in prison for witness tampering.

Following the announcement of the indictment, the Baltimore Police Department announced Tuesday that four officers had been suspended and would be investigated by the Internal Affairs unit. The four officers have been identified as Ryan Guinn, Robert Hankard, Adam Storie, and Carmine Vignola.

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