US police officers carried BB guns to plant on unarmed suspects after they shot them, a corruption trial has heard.
Members of Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force, an elite squad with responsibility for taking illegal firearms off the city’s streets, kept replica weapons in their cars in case they “accidentally hit somebody,” a former detective told a court.
Maurice Ward, who served with the unit, made the claim as he gave evidence during the trial of two colleagues accused of crimes including robbery, extortion, drug-dealing and faking evidence.
Ward is one of six officers who have pleaded guilty to fraud and racketeering charges.
He told the US District Court in Baltimore the unit’s supervisor, Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, instructed officers to carry BB guns “in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shoot-out, so we could plant them”.
Ward did not say if officers ever did plant a replica firearm on anyone, the Baltimore Sun reported.
He is one of four officers giving testimony in the trial of detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, who have denied the charges.
The trial has heard how the officers from the rogue unit plundered money and drugs from suspects to sell on themselves. They stopped people on the streets without probable cause, broke into homes, and executed searches without warrants, it was alleged.
Officers also installed illegal GPS trackers on suspects on suspects cars to make them easier to track, the court heard.
In one case, police broke into a safe without a warrant and found $200,000 (£140,500) inside. They took out half the cash and closed the safe before filming themselves pretending to open it for the first time.
“We would create false reports to cover up the robberies we were involved in,” testified Evodio Hendrix, another of the officers who has admitted the charges.
Detectives Momodu Gondo and Jemell Rayam and Sergeant Thomas Allers have also pleaded guilty.
Officers from the unit also fraudulently pocketed hundreds of thousands of pounds from overtime they did not work
Read the rest at: Baltimore Police