Video reveals Gun Trace Task Force tactics; attorneys again accuse Mosby of knowing about corrupt cops and doing nothing

Momodu Gondo (l), Daniel Hersl, and Wayne Jenkins.

Security camera footage of Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) members Wayne Jenkins, Daniel Hersl, and Momodu Gondo burglarizing an apartment in Canton was released yesterday by attorneys Josh Insley, Natalie Finegar, and Tony Garcia.

The footage shows Jenkins trying to sneak into the apartment by posing as a tenant who forgot his key and returning later in his police vest along with Gondo and Hersl, who presents a fake warrant.

“There he is waving, who knows, some papers he had in his car—it’s not a warrant,” Insley said, narrating the video as it was played for reporters.

The three GTTF members then walk behind the desk of the apartment complex and surround the security guard.

“So now they’re taking over the situation. You’ll see the security guard is a rather young gentlemen clearly intimidated by their actions,” Insley said.

Eventually, the security guard walks them up to the apartment of Damon Hardrick and April Sims, whom GTTF robbed.

The security footage is a rare glimpse of Jenkins and GTTF at work and shows how easy it was for them to rob and steal under the color of law. In the video, Jenkins and Gondo have police vests slung over one shoulder, while Hersl remains in civilian clothes—a bright orange Orioles shirt and dad jeans.

During the trial, which ultimately found Hersl and another GTTF member Marcus Taylor, guilty of robbery, racketeering conspiracy, and racketeering, this burglary came up. According to Gondo’s testimony, Jenkins called up Hersl and Gondo, said he had a “fuckin’ baller” because he spotted a Mercedes Benz truck parked outside the building and had observed drug transactions. He said that there was about $50,000 inside the house, and also that he had probable cause for a warrant from a judge.

This is an example of the “sneak and peek” tactics often mentioned during the trial: GTTF enter a residence without a warrant and scope it out, sometimes stealing and returning much later with a warrant proper and other officers who would do actual police work.

Gondo also testified that Hersl said he wanted in on the robbery because he had just bought a new home (Hersl closed on a Joppa home on July 20, 2016; this burglary took place on July 25, 2016) and that Hersl handed Gondo a $5,000 Chanel purse from the apartment, which Gondo gave to a woman he was seeing.

 

Later in the security video, we see Jenkins, Hersl, and Gondo back in the apartment lobby now holding boxes of things taken from the Sims residence, grinning and laughing with the security guard.

“This is just boxes of stuff, they’re just stealing out of these peoples’ apartment,” Insley said, incredulous. “Sneak, peek, and steal.”

A couple hours after that, Jenkins, Hersl, and Gondo returned again with other police officers and a warrant and seized heroin from the apartment and charged Sims and Hardrick with possession of a large amount of narcotics, intent to distribute, and paraphernalia.

 

Additional footage shows Jenkins and Hersl messing about in another room of the apartment complex where the security cameras are, returning to the building with other officers who have a proper warrant, and officers in uniform carrying out Sims and Hardrick in handcuffs.

Like the Feb. 2 press conference organized by Insley, Finegar, and Garcia’s partner Ivan Bates (who is also running for State’s Attorney), the larger point here was the failings of the current State’s Attorney’s Office. Sims and Hardrick’s case languished in court because GTTF members did not testify and couldn’t produce the warrant, Insley explained. When the case was dismissed because it violated right to a speedy trial, the SAO simply indicted Sims again. The Sims case was dismissed only after GTTF members were indicted.

“There is no way Marilyn Mosby didn’t know about the credibility of these officers,” Finegar said, highlighting the SAO’s approach of attempting to push through cases with officers with credibility issues simply by not calling those officers with issues to court and relying on the testimony of other officers present.

Garcia characterized the SAO’s approach to prosecution when they had problem officers.

“’Well, we’re not gonna call that officer, we’re gonna simply cut him out of the picture and go with the other officers that didn’t exactly do anything,’” Garcia said. “Well, they’re all complicit because the other officers saw the other officers commit a crime. That’s called conspiracy.”

“It’s about how do I look good, not how do I be good,” Finegar said.

In response to the criticism by Insley, Finegar, and Garcia, the SAO’s Melba Saunders released a statement that said the SAO pushed forward because there was “overwhelming evidence against the defendants, which included 390 grams of heroin recovered at the scene.” Saunders added, “this is yet another example of hundreds of cases where police corruption has impeded our city’s ability to deliver justice on behalf of its citizens.”

Sanders’ statement verifies the lawyers’ accusations against the SAO: They pursued cases even when those cases were deeply flawed. In the Sims case, there is video evidence that Jenkins, Hersl, and Gondo entered the apartment hours before they were allowed to search it and removed items. Given GTTF trial testimony that included stories of GTTF dealing drugs themselves and in some cases even planting drugs on people, the ability to determine where the heroin seized originated should be called into question.

Whistleblowers provided other internal documents to Insley, who was in turn passing them on to the press, as he did with thousands of pages of internal affairs documents pertaining to Rayam, which he obtained from a whistleblower and gave to the Sun’s Justin Fenton last December. Many of these documents involve the same 2009 theft of $11,000 covered by Fenton.

Details in that case are similar to many that came out in the GTTF trials. In his statements to the Internal Affairs Department, Rayam said he and his partner Jason Giordano were driving by when they saw another officer, whom they didn’t know, outside a stopped vehicle. It turned out the other officer was Michael Sylvester, with whom Rayam became friends in the academy. And, as he testified in the federal trial, shortly before this incident, Jason Giordano had already helped him cover up Rayam’s shooting of Shawn Cannady in an alley.

The defense attorneys, who are part of a PAC trying to unseat Mosby, provided a lie detector test given to Giordano regarding the 2009 theft—and it determined that there was a 99 percent chance he was not telling the truth. Giordano, they pointed out, is still on the force with four open cases.

The attorneys also pointed out that Thomas Wilson still has 37 cases pending. Wilson was Jenkins’ former partner and was put on administrative duty after his name came up in the federal trial when Donald Stepp alleged that he helped provide security at Scores stripclub for a Dominican drug dealer visiting from New York and had knowledge of the theft of 30 pounds of weed from two individuals outside the Belvedere Towers apartments.

In an affidavit provided by the attorneys and dated April 8, 2015, Kimberly Demory stated that Rayam forced her to hang up the phone when she tried use 911 to call uniformed officers. When she asked for a warrant, Jenkins “pulled his gun out and placed it to [her] temple.”

Other documents showed that the SAO was aware of Rayam’s credibility problems—but instead of revealing those issues to defense attorneys, as they are required to, the SAO simply tried to bring the case without having to call Rayam. A 2016 memo from Assistant State’s Attorney Kent Grasso sent to the police integrity unit addressed Rayam’s “credibility issues” during a trial overseen by Judge Barry Williams.

Mosby’s office not only ignored concerns about members of the GTTF, Garcia said, but someone in the office tipped Jenkins that GTTF was being investigated.

“Our office learned of the egregious and illegal acts of these officers the same time as the public, when they were federally indicted,” Saunders said in response. She referred all questions regarding the leaker to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Documents provided by Insley, Garcia and Finegar showed, however, that the heads of the police integrity unit and the intelligence unit were aware of the problems—and waited months before sharing those concerns with BPD’s internal affairs. The letter went to Ian Dombrowski, who was named in the GTTF trial as originating the free days off for guns scheme utilized by the officers.

Insley remarked that the new corruption unit announced by commissioner-designate Darryl De Sousa is a “second IAD,” because the existing internal affairs has been “compromised,” like the SAO, by leaking information to GTTF officers. He also criticized Mayor Catherine Pugh and DeSousa who have adopted “a few bad apples” talk when it comes to GTTF.

He mentioned William King and Antonio Murray, two federally-indicted BPD officers who robbed drug dealers in 2005 and were then referred to as “bad apples” by the powers that be. It’s a cheap rhetorical trick used to ignore the problem.

“A few bad apples means ‘I don’t care,'” Insley said.

Visit therealnews.com for more independent local, national, and international journalism that examines the underlying causes of chronic problems and searches for effective solutions.

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