By J. K. Schmid, Special to the AFRO
The Baltimore State’s Attorney (SAO) is named as a defendant in a May 17 civil rights complaint filed by a Baltimore man, over injuries sustained in a violent 2016 encounter with police.
Baltimore State’s Attorney, Marilyn J. Mosby, alongside notorious members of the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force and the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) at large, each stand accused of “a policy or custom of condonation or deliberate indifference to the use of excessive force, illegal search and seizures, and misuses of police powers by Defendant BPD officers,’ the complaint says.
The suit asks for $10 million in damages.
Kenneth Bumgardner, the plaintiff, alleges that February 9, 2016, at approximately 6:30 p.m., his vehicle, parked in the 5000 block of Dickey Hill, was rammed by an unmarked BPD car. The complaint’s account continues a story where Bumgardner, fearing for his life, fled the scene only to be struck from behind by a blunt object, bringing him, unconscious, to the ground.
The complaint claims to have witnesses that can identify former BPD detective Marcus Taylor as the officer that delivered the blow.
The complaint’s account concludes by saying Bumgardner did not receive any medical attention from the four BPD officers on the scene, the aforementioned Taylor, and officers Evodio Hendrix, Maurice Ward and Wayne Jenkins; and medical technicians did not arrive for nearly two hours.
Bumgardner claims that nothing incriminating was discovered after a search.
While Bumgardner and his complaint’s account is in keeping with the character of the accusations laid against the officers at their March 1 arrest, what is novel is the nature of the charges against Mosby and her office.
“At all times during the course of these events, Defendant SAO had prior notice of the criminal activity of the Gun Trace Task Force members and actively engaged in the protection of the rogue unit,” the complaint alleges. “Beginning in 2009, Defendant SAO disclosed to criminal defendants and their counsel that members of the Gun Trace Task Force had been caught stealing. Commencing with the installation of the Administration of Marilyn Mosby, Defendant SAO ceased providing the disclosures and denied that they existed.”
Mosby assumed office January 5, 2015.
Brady v. Maryland, a 1963 Supreme Court decision, determined that prosecutors are obligated to disclose to the defense any exculpatory evidence that has a reasonable probability of affecting a defendant’s conviction or sentencing. Banks v. Dretke makes explicit that these disclosures must included any evidence that might impeach the credibility of state’s witnesses. It follows that the SAO would be obligated to provide to every defendant a complete accounting of known and suspected misconduct of arresting officers, officers that gathered evidence and officers providing testimony in court.
The AFRO reached out to the SAO for the office’s perspective on the case. What follows is SAO Director of Communications, Melba E. Saunders, emailed response in its entirety:
”While we are in no way dismissive of the conduct alleged at the hands of the GTTF, our inclusion in today’s lawsuit is a desperate political stunt led by Josh Insley, who formerly served as the chairman of a Super PAC formed to defeat State’s Attorney Mosby in the upcoming primary. We have every confidence that if this frivolous suit against our office is ever brought to trial, that the hard working men and women of the State’s Attorney Office will be cleared of any wrongdoing.”
Attorney Josh Insley did not respond to an AFRO request for comment.
State’s Attorney Mosby is currently in a three-way race for the June Democratic Primary election. In the 2014 general, she ran and won unopposed.