Published on: Monday, September 12, 2022

The long-term cost of the Baltimore Police Department’s notorious and disgraced Gun Trace Task Force to taxpayers just jumped by more than half a million dollars, the result of a newly-approved settlement with one of the unit’s victims (article available here).

Baltimore’s spending board approved a $575,000 settlement Wednesday stemming from an arrest made by members of the city’s Gun Trace Task Force, bringing the total paid out as a result of the rogue force’s actions to more than $15 million.

The Board of Estimates voted unanimously in favor of the settlement reached with Darnell Earl, who sued the Baltimore Police Department and three members of the task force over a 2015 arrest that resulted in a year and a half of jail time.

Earl was a passenger in a car in October 2015 that was stopped by police officers Marcus Taylor, Evodio Hendrix and Wayne Jenkins. Following the stop, the officers said they found a firearm under Earl’s seat. Earl had prior convictions for illegal possession of a gun and was charged with multiple firearms-related offenses as a result of the stop. He pleaded guilty to one charge.

After revelations that the task force routinely violated people’s rights and stole drugs and money using the authority of their badge, Taylor, Hendrix and Jenkins pleaded guilty to federal charges. Earl’s conviction, along with many others related to the force, was vacated due to credibility issues with the officers.

Earl sued the department in 2020, alleging numerous violations of state and federal law, arguing there was no probable cause for the traffic stop and that the gun was planted in the vehicle by the officers.

Taylor, who was sentenced to 18 years behind bars, remains in federal prison in Arkansas. Jenkins, sentenced to 25 years, is being held in Kentucky. Hendrix, sentenced to seven years, was released in February.

The settlement approved Wednesday brings the total paid out by the city for settlements related to the task force to $15.48 million. The largest of those settlements, $7.9 million, was paid to Umar Burley and Brent Matthews, who both went to federal prison for drugs that were planted in their vehicle in 2010. That amount eclipsed the settlement paid to the family of Freddie Gray in 2015.