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Crime & Justiceby Fern Shen12:17 pmMar 1, 20230

Baltimore approves $6 million to settle suit stemming from GTTF car chase

Payment in connection with the fatal 2010 crash brings total city payouts so far due to the corrupt police unit to $22.2 million

Above: Settlements stemming from the illegal activities of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force unit continue to mount. (Mark Reutter)

The city spending board today approved a $6 million settlement to the family of a man killed during a police chase by the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF), bringing to $22.2 million the financial toll of lawsuits generated by the activities of the corrupt police gang.

The Board of Estimates voted unanimously to make the payment, settling a lawsuit filed by Shirley Johnson stemming from an April 2010 crash that resulted in the death of her father, Elbert Davis Sr.

The car driven by Davis and his partner, Phosa Cain, was hit by two men fleeing the BPD officers.

Davis was fatally injured and Cain, who has since died of unrelated causes, also suffered injuries.

Rather than rendering aid or calling for an ambulance, police instead worked to “cover their tracks” by planting heroin in the car they were chasing, a federal lawsuit filed by the family alleged.

“The fabrication of evidence after the accident implied that the officers had bad intentions from the outset,” the city law department said in documents filed as part of today’s vote.

The lawsuit also alleged “that BPD knowingly permitted a widespread, persistent pattern of unconstitutional police conduct and deliberately failed to train and/or supervise its officers in a manner that would prevent constitutional violations against citizens.”

Money Not Spent Elsewhere

In remarks today, Mayor Brandon Scott sought to describe the officers’ illegal behavior as past history, stressing that the car chase “predates [City Council President Nick Mosby] and I being in elected office.”

“It brings to light the importance of all the reforms that we’re undertaking,” Scott said. “This is what happened when we didn’t have the oversight, didn’t have the training.”

Mosby pointed to all the other uses that could have been made of the $6 million in taxpayer funds.

“This is money that the city could have been putting to Rec and Parks and into other resources throughout our city,” he said, citing also reducing the property tax, assisting youth and aiding the homeless.

More Cases Pending

As part of the board’s discussion of the today’s settlement, the conversation turned to what future costs the city could anticipate as a result of the rogue unit’s activities.

Scott asked Justin Conroy, of the city law department, how many more GTTF cases remain.

There are five pending lawsuits and two claims that could potentially be filed as lawsuits, Conroy said.

Formed as an elite squad of plainclothes officers, GTTF officers pled guilty to robbing citizens during street and traffic stops, making illegal searches in people’s homes, planting evidence and providing false affidavits and police reports to further their crimes.

The scandal, which came to light in 2017, also resulted in hundreds of criminal cases brought by the officers being dropped or vacated.

At Mosby’s request, Conroy read aloud the names of the BPD officers connected to the case.

“Wayne Jenkins, Ryan Guinn, Richard Willard, William Knoerlein, Michael Fries and then also named were Dean Palmere,” he said.

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