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Burley v. Baltimore Police Department

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 12, 2019

UMAR HASSAN BURLEY, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELLEN L. HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This civil rights case is rooted in the disturbing events of April 28, 2010, and involves current and former members of the Baltimore Police Department (“BPD” or the “Department”) and its now defunct Gun Trace Trask Force (“GTTF”).

         In a 59-page Second amended Complaint (“SAC, ” ECF 23), plaintiffs Umar Hassan Burley and Brent Andre Matthews filed suit against the BPD; former Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere; and several former and current police officers: former Sergeant Wayne Earl Jenkins; former Sergeant Richard Willard; Sergeant William Knoerlein; Sergeant Ryan Guinn; Lieutenant Michael Fries; and former Officer Keith Gladstone.[1]

         Plaintiffs allege that on April 28, 2010, members of the BPD, “wearing plainclothes” and “masks, ” “jumped out” of their vehicles “with their guns drawn.” Id. ¶¶ 216, 217, 218. Plaintiffs, in fear that “they were about to be robbed, ” sped away in Burley's motor vehicle. Id. ¶¶ 2, 221. During the high speed chase that ensued, Burley drove through an intersection and crashed into a vehicle driven by Elbert Davis. Id. ¶ 223. Tragically, Mr. Davis was killed. Id.[2] The police officers then “planted approximately 32 grams of heroin on the floor” of Burley's vehicle to justify their “illegal acts[.]” Id. ¶ 228. Thereafter, based on “a fabricated statement of probable cause, ” id. ¶ 234, Burley and Matthews were charged in federal court with drug related offenses. See United States v. Burley, et al., No. RDB-11-74; see also ECF 23, ¶ 238. In addition, the State charged Burley with vehicular manslaughter. See Baltimore City Circuit Court No. 110294026; ECF 23, ¶ 239.

         In the federal case, Burley and Matthews ultimately pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin. And, Burley pleaded guilty in State court to vehicular manslaughter. Id. ¶ 243. However, in 2017 and 2018, plaintiffs' convictions were vacated, after it was determined that the underlying federal charges were unfounded and the product of police corruption. Id. ¶¶ 10, 11.

         The SAC contains thirteen counts. Id. ¶¶ 267-342. Counts I through VI assert claims under federal law, and Counts VII through XIII are premised on Maryland law. Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, punitive damages, and payment for the civil judgment obtained by the family of Mr. Davis against Burley, in the amount of $1, 092, 500, plus post-judgment interest. Id. at 58.

         Count I, titled “Violation of Due Process, ” is lodged under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Jenkins, Guinn, Gladstone, and Willard. Id. ¶¶ 267-73. Count II asserts a claim of “Malicious Prosecution” under § 1983 against Jenkins, Guinn, Gladstone, and Willard. Id. ¶¶ 274-79. Count III, lodged against Jenkins, Guinn, Gladstone, Willard, Knoerlein, Fries, and Palmere, alleges a claim of “Failure to Intervene” under § 1983. Id. ¶¶ 280-83. Count IV, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, asserts a claim against Jenkins, Guinn, Gladstone, and Willard for “Conspiracy to Deprive Constitutional Rights.” Id. ¶¶ 284-90. Count V alleges a “Supervisor Liability” claim under § 1983 against Willard, Knoerlein, Fries, and Palmere. Id. ¶¶ 291-96. Count VI asserts a “Monell Liability” claim against the BPD, pursuant to § 1983. Id. ¶¶ 297-304.

         Count VII asserts a claim of “Malicious Prosecution” against Jenkins, Guinn, Gladstone, and Willard. Id. ¶¶ 305-316. In Count VIII, plaintiffs allege “Abuse of Process, ” filed against Jenkins, Guinn, Gladstone, and Willard. Id. ¶¶ 317-21. Count IX asserts a claim of “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” against Jenkins, Guinn, Gladstone, and Willard. Id. ¶¶ 322-25. In Count X, plaintiffs assert a claim of “Civil Conspiracy” against Guinn, Gladstone, and Willard. Id. ¶¶ 326-30. Count XI, lodged against Guinn, Gladstone, and Willard, is filed pursuant to Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Id. ¶¶ 331-33. In Count XII, plaintiffs seek “Indemnification” against the BPD. And, in Count XIII, they seek “Indemnification for Civil Judgment” against Jenkins, Guinn, Gladstone, and the BPD. Id. ¶¶ 334-42.

         Three motions to dismiss are pending. BPD and Palmere move to dismiss the SAC, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. ECF 29. It is supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 29-2 (collectively, the “BPD Motion”). They contend that plaintiffs' claims against them are time-barred. Id. at 2. BPD also asserts that it is protected by sovereign immunity as to plaintiffs' State law claims. Id. In addition, defendants argue that plaintiffs fail to state a claim against Palmere for failure to intervene in Count III, and lack standing to seek indemnification in Counts XII and XIII. Id.

         Fries, Gladstone, Guinn, Knoerlein, and Willard (the “Officer Defendants”)[3] join the BPD motion and move to dismiss the SAC for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). ECF 33. Their motion is supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 33-1 (collectively, the “Officer Motion”). They assert that all claims, except for plaintiffs' malicious prosecution claims, are time-barred, because plaintiffs “knew the operative facts underpinning their causes of action well within the three year period, but chose to wait to file their suit until eight years later.” Id. ¶¶ 5-6. In addition, they argue that Count V (Supervisory Liability) and Count VII (Malicious Prosecution) fail to state a claim. Id. ¶¶ 7-9.

         In a consolidated submission, plaintiffs oppose the BPD Motion and the Motion. ECF 35. They assert that their § 1983 claims are timely because “they did not accrue until Plaintiffs' criminal proceedings fully resolved when their convictions were vacated in December 2017.” Id. at 13. Further, they contend that they stated claims for malicious prosecution, failure to intervene, and supervisory liability. Id. at 23.

         The BPD (ECF 40) and the Officer Defendants (ECF 42) have replied. In BPD's reply, the Department asserts that it is not subject to Monell liability. ECF 40 at 9. With leave of court (ECF 45), plaintiffs have filed a surreply. ECF 46.

         Jenkins joins the BPD Motion and the Motion. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), he also moves to dismiss the SAC, asserting that plaintiffs' claims are time-barred. ECF 41. The motion is supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 41-1 (collectively, the “Jenkins Motion”). Plaintiffs oppose the Jenkins Motion. ECF 43.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the motions. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant in part and deny in part the BPD Motion (ECF 29); deny the Officer Motion (ECF 33); and deny the Jenkins Motion (ECF 41).

         I. Factual Background [4]

         A. The Police Officers

         At all relevant times, Jenkins, Guinn, Gladstone, Willard, Knoerlein, Fries, and Palmere were employed by the BPD. ECF 23, ¶ 24.

         In 2007, “the BPD formed a new elite, plainclothes unit known as the Violent Crime Impact Division [“VCID”] to focus on ‘bad guys with guns.'” ECF 23, ¶ 56.[5] According to plaintiffs, the unit is also known as the Violent Crime Impact Section (“VCIS”) and was previously called the Organized Crime Division. Id. ¶ 25. Also in 2007, the BPD formed the GTTF, “with the stated goal of tracking and curbing illegal gun sales and gun activity.” Id. ¶ 157.

         Gladstone “is a former member of the BPD.” Id. ¶ 27. He joined the Department in 1992. Id. In 2008, he joined the VCID, and was a member of that unit at the relevant time. Id.

         Jenkins joined the BPD on February 20, 2003. Id. ¶ 25. And, plaintiffs assert that Jenkins joined the VCID in June 2006. Id.[6] Jenkins was promoted to Sergeant on November 30, 2012, and in June 2016 he was “named supervisor” of the GTTF. Id.

         Guinn “is a current member of the BPD.” Id. ¶ 26. In April 2010, Guinn was a member of VCID. Id. And, he is a former member of the GTTF. Id.

         Willard is a former member of the Department. Id. ¶ 28. He “joined the BPD in 1992.” Id. In April 2010, Willard was “a Sergeant in VCID” and “directly supervised” Jenkins. Id.

         Knoerlein “is a current member of the BPD.” Id. ¶ 29. In April 2010, he “was a Sergeant in VCID and directly supervised” Gladstone and Jenkins. Id.

         Fries is “a current member of the BPD.” Id. ¶ 30. From at least 2004 to 2006, Fries “was part of a Special Enforcement Team” (“SET”) and he “supervised” Jenkins. Id.[7] In April 2010, Fries “was a Lieutenant in VCID and directly supervised” Gladstone. Id.

         Palmere was employed by the Department for more than twenty years before he retired in 2018. Id. ¶ 31. During his employment, he “held various supervisory roles within the BPD in which he oversaw plainclothes units.” Id.; see also ¶ 134. From 2008 to 2010, Palmere “led VCID.” Id. As the head of VCID, Palmere “was a supervisor responsible for Officers Jenkins, Guinn, and Gladstone[.]” Id. ¶ 140. And, in 2010 “he was promoted to Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division, into which VCID merged.” Id. In 2011, Palmere “briefly served as Chief of the Patrol Division.” Id. In 2012, he returned “to his role as Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division.” Id. From 2013 until Palmere retired in 2018, he “served as Deputy Commissioner overseeing the BPD's Patrol and Operations Bureaus, under which the plainclothes units fell.” Id.

         1. Gladstone and Jenkins

         Gladstone “served as a mentor” to Jenkins, and the officers “began working with each other as early as 2008, frequently making arrests together in 2010.” ECF 23, ¶ 78. Plaintiffs allege that the Department had actual or constructive knowledge of the history of “illegal actions” of Gladstone and Jenkins while they were employed by the BPD. Id. ¶ 72.

         Plaintiffs assert, id. ¶ 73: “Gladstone was involved in the 2003 arrest of Mason Weaver, in which a federal judge held that the BPD officers involved had violated Mr. Weaver's constitutional rights.” In addition, he was found to have committed misconduct between 2002 and 2004 while working in the Northwest District. Id. ¶ 74. And, “on multiple occasions prior to 2010, Officer Gladstone allowed his sources to keep drugs in exchange for information.” Id. ¶ 75.

         In May 2015, while Lieutenant Christopher O'Ree was working with Gladstone, O'Ree “pepper sprayed a man in the face from only a few feet way.” Id. ¶ 76. Then, Gladstone “grabbed the man by his hair and pulled him to the ground, before running to chase other residents in the vicinity with pepper spray.” Id. Thereafter, the victim filed a civil rights suit against the officers, and a jury found that Gladstone and O'Ree “had used excessive force and awarded $75, 000” to the victim.

         Similarly, plaintiffs claim that Jenkins “engaged in repeated misconduct as a police officer, ” id. ¶ 79, and he “was the subject of several . . . investigations” conducted by the BPD's Internal Affairs Division (“IAD”). Id. ¶ 95. Over the course of Jenkins' employment with the BPD, he “repeatedly crashed BPD-issued vehicles, damaging them and/or rendering them inoperable.” Id. ¶ 80. For example, on July 24, 2004, “Jenkins was involved in a car accident while on duty.” Id. ¶ 81. And, “IAD subsequently conducted an investigation and disciplined Mr. Jenkins for an accident that it deemed ‘preventable.'” Id. In addition, plaintiffs allege that “Jenkins modified or enhanced the department-issued vehicles in an effort to withstand frequent collisions - in contravention of BPD policy.” Id. ¶ 82.

         In 2005, Jenkins “struck a private citizen, Timothy O' Conner, in the face.” Id. O'Conner “suffered a fracture of the bone near his eye.” Id. Thereafter, O'Conner filed a lawsuit in connection with the incident. Id. ¶ 86. In September 2008, Baltimore City “agreed to settle the case . . . for $75, 000.” Id. ¶ 86.

         In February 2008, Jenkins, as a VCID member, “fabricated an affidavit in support of a search warrant, writing that a confidential source had told him that a black male by the name of Mickey Oakley was distributing large amounts of cocaine and heroin in Baltimore and that a confidential source had been inside an apartment where the drugs were stored with Mr. Oakley.” Id. ¶ 87. Jenkins and other officers “entered Mr. Oakley's apartment without a search warrant, ” a practice known within the BPD as a “sneak and peek.” Id. ¶ 88. Later that day, Jenkins and Detective Daniel Hersl, an officer who later worked under Jenkins in the GTTF, “apprehended Mr. Oakley.” Id. ¶ 89.

         At a hearing in 2009, Jenkins “took the stand and lied when he stated that” another officer had told Jenkins “that he saw Mr. Oakley exit an apartment building holding a brown paper bag and get into a black SUV.” Id. ¶ 90. Due to Jenkins's misconduct, the government “later agreed to Mr. Oakley's release from federal prison . . . .” Id. ¶ 91.

         In an incident in November 2010, Jenkins and Gladstone, while working in the VCID, “arrested Jamal Walker during a car stop and then went to Mr. Walker's home, where they tried to break in.” Id. ¶ 92. But, Jovonne Walker, Mr. Walker's wife, “set off a silent burglary alarm during the break-in attempt, which brought police to the home.” Id. According to plaintiffs, “Jenkins and Gladstone sent the police away so that they could conduct a search of the home themselves.” Id. However, “once the inconsistencies in Jenkins' account came to light, ” the government dropped the case against Mr. Walker. Id.

         Plaintiffs also assert that in May 2011, Jenkins “stole at least $1, 800 from an individual's car after an attempted traffic stop and later authored a false incident report to conceal his illegal conduct.” Id. ¶ 93.

         In a 2014 case involving Jenkins and Gladstone, Assistant City State's Attorney Molly Webb notified defense counsel that video camera footage taken of a search of a vehicle “contradicted the sworn statement of probable cause submitted by the officers.” Id. ¶ 167. In response to the video footage, “Webb dismissed the case and reported the inconsistency” to the IAD. Id. ¶ 168. After Webb reported the incident, “Jenkins threatened ASA Webb that she should ‘stop talking about him.'” Id. ¶ 169. However, “no investigation was conducted and no disciplinary actions were taken against” Jenkins and Gladstone. Id. ¶ 170.

         Although the BPD knew that “Officer Jenkins engaged in repeated acts of misconduct, ” id. ¶ 183, plaintiffs assert that “the BPD did not punish Officer Jenkins . . . .” Id. Instead, it “rewarded him by promoting him to lead” two of the plainclothes units. Id.

         In a BPD newsletter of an unspecified date, Lieutenant O'Ree purportedly wrote of Jenkins, id. ¶ 189: “‘I am extremely proud to showcase the work of Sergeant Wayne Jenkins and [his team] . . . Their relentless pursuit to make our streets safer by removing guns and arresting the right people for the right reasons has made our City safer. I couldn't be more proud of the strong work of this team.'” O'Ree added: “‘This team of dedicated detectives has a work ethic that is beyond reproach.'” Id.

         2. Willard, Knoerlein, and Fries

         Plaintiffs allege that Willard, Knoerlin, and Fries, who “held supervisory roles within the plainclothes units” in which Jenkins, Gladstone, and Guinn worked, were deliberately indifferent to the conduct of Jenkins, Gladstone, Guinn, and Rayam. Id. ¶¶ 102, 103, 123. According to plaintiffs, these supervisors took no steps “to report or remedy illegal conduct that each of them knew or should have known was occurring in the plainclothes units under their supervision, ” id. ¶ 124, and they “failed to adequately train, investigate, supervise, or discipline” the officers. Id. ¶ 127.

         From 2004 to 2016, Fries supervised Jenkins as a part of the SET. Id. ¶ 105. Fries was Jenkins's supervisor in 2004, “when IAD sustained a finding against Officer Jenkins for a vehicular accident it deemed ‘preventable.'” Id. ¶ 106. Fries was also Jenkins's supervisor in 2005, when Jenkins struck O'Conner in the face. Id. ¶ 107. Although Fries “had actual or constructive knowledge of Officer Jenkins' use of excessive force” against O'Conner, Fries did not take any “remedial or disciplinary action against Officer Jenkins.” Id. Indeed, in June 2006, Fries “selected Officer Jenkins to join VCID, ” despite his “knowledge” of Jenkins's “prior misconduct.” Id. ¶ 109.

         Fries also served as “Gladstone's direct supervisor in VCID, ” beginning in 2008. Id. ¶ 110. Fries was Gladstone's supervisor when Gladstone, together with Jenkins, “arrested Mickey Oakley in 2008 and Jamal Walker in 2010.” Id. ¶ 111.

         Beginning in 2006, Knoerlin “supervised Officer Jenkins in VCID.” Id. ¶ 112. Plaintiffs claim that Knoerlin “had actual or constructive knowledge of Officer Jenkins' history of misconduct prior to joining VCID, including “the 2004 sustained IAD finding and the 2005 incident involving Timothy O'Conner.” Id. ¶ 113.

         Knoerlin also supervised Officer Gladstone in VCID beginning in 2008. Id. ¶ 114. Plaintiffs maintain that Knoerlin “had actual or constructive knowledge of Officer Gladstone's history of misconduct prior to joining VCID, including but not limited to an earlier sustained IAD finding and his practice of allowing individuals to keep drugs in exchange for information.” Id. ¶ 115. Further, plaintiffs claim that Knoerlin “directly supervised” Jenkins and Gladstone in VCID “when they committed numerous acts of misconduct, including in connection with their arrests” of Oakley and Walker. Id. ¶ 116.

         Willard also supervised Jenkins in VCID. Id. ¶ 117. According to plaintiffs, Willard “had actual or constructive knowledge of Officer Jenkins' history of misconduct prior to joining VCID, including but not limited to the 2004 sustained IAD finding and the 2005 incident involving” O'Conner. Id. ¶ 118.

         In sum, plaintiffs allege that Willard, Knoerlein, and Fries “condon[ed] numerous instances of misconduct” and “actively encouraged plainclothes officers under their supervision, including Officers Jenkins and Gladstone, to violate the constitutional rights of Baltimore residents.” Id. ¶ 130. Further, plaintiffs contend that the supervising officers “encouraged and incentivized the officers under their supervision to get as many guns off the street by whatever means necessary, legal or otherwise.” Id. They add, id. ¶ 186, that the BPD “promoted” plainclothes officers “in large part based on their arrest statistics, without regard for the methods the plainclothes officers used to recover those guns and make those arrests.” At a BPD ceremony in September 2011, the Department awarded three of seven “Bronze Medals” to Jenkins, Gladstone, and Knoerlein. Id. ¶ 188.

         3. Palmere

         Palmere “oversaw many of the BPD's plainclothes units throughout his tenure as a senior officer within the BPD[.]” Id. ¶ 134. According to plaintiffs, as a senior command-level officer, Palmere “had actual or constructive knowledge of the Officer Defendants' misconduct” but “did nothing to stop their practices.” Id. ¶ 134; see also Id. ¶¶ 140, 145.

         In the mid-2000s as Commander of the Central District, “Palmere began supervising” plainclothes officers. Id. ¶ 136. In 2005 “Palmere served on the trial board for Officer Thomas E. Wilson, who had entered and searched a home without a warrant, later obtained a warrant, and then falsified police reports to state that he had received the warrant prior to the home invasion . . . .” Id. ¶ 137. Although “IAD recommended that Officer Wilson be fired, ” Palmere “voted for a reduced sentence[.]” Id.

         From 2008 to 2010, as head of the VCID, “Palmere supervised plainclothes officers during a time of increased citizen complaints and widespread abuses.” Id. ¶ 138. Plaintiffs allege that Palmere “supervised the VCIS officer who assaulted Jerriel Lyles, resulting in a $200, 000 payout to Mr. Lyles.” Id. Palmere also “had direct oversight responsibility for the three VCIS officers who were charged with kidnapping two Baltimore city teenagers and leaving one in Howard County in 2010[.]” Id. According to plaintiffs, Palmere also “assisted and coached” Rayam “in the cover-up of the fatal shooting of Mr. Cannady.” Id. ¶ 139.

         Plaintiffs assert, id. ¶ 144: “Palmere was a longstanding friend of and very close to Sergeant Thomas Allers, GTTF's officer-in-charge from July 2013 to June 2016.” Palmere “had supervisory responsibility” for Allers. On December 4, 2017, Allers pleaded guilty to “RICO conspiracy charges” and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Id; see also United States v. Allers, No. CCB-17-452, ECF 19.

         In addition, plaintiffs assert that the “continued inaction of Mr. Palmere, over a substantial period of time, in the face of widespread and longstanding abuses committed by plainclothes officers under his supervision, including the Officer Defendants, demonstrates his deliberate indifference to that pattern of misconduct, including the misconduct” against Burley and Matthews. Id. ¶ 146. Further, plaintiffs allege that the charges against the GTTF officers “precipitated” the “abrupt retirement” of Palmere. Id. ¶ 53.

         B. The Prosecution Of Plaintiffs

         On April 28, 2010, Burley and Matthews “were planning to attend a sentencing hearing” in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for an individual who was “recently convicted of murdering” Burley's cousin. Id. ¶ 212. While plaintiffs were sitting in Burley's vehicle, Jenkins and Guinn, “in an unmarked BPD vehicle, suddenly pulled in front of” Burley's vehicle. Id. ¶ 216. Officer Sean Suiter, in a second unmarked vehicle, “quickly pulled behind” Burley's vehicle, bumping it so that plaintiffs were “boxed-in and prevented from leaving the area.” Id. ¶ 217.

         Jenkins, Guinn, and Suiter, who were members of the VCID, “jumped out” of their vehicles, in “plainclothes” and with “masks, ” and with their “guns drawn.” Id. ¶ 218. The officers did not display identification. Id.¶ 219. Nor did they orally identify themselves as police officers.” Id. According to plaintiffs, there was no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify the seizure. Id. ¶ 216.

         “[F]earing that they were about to be robbed or kidnapped by armed gunmen, ” Burley “maneuvered his car” and sought to flee in his vehicle, with Matthews in the passenger seat. Id. ¶ 221. Jenkins, Guinn, and Suiter “returned to their unmarked BPD vehicles, and a high-speed chase ensued.” Id. ¶ 222. At no point did the officers “turn on police sirens or lights to indicate that they were, in fact, police officers.” Id. During the course of the chase, Burley sped through an intersection and struck a vehicle driven by Elbert Davis. Id. ¶ 223. Tragically, Mr. Davis died from injuries suffered in the collision. Id.

         Following the collision, Burley and Matthews “fled on foot in an attempt to evade the Officers[.]” Id. ¶ 224. After they were apprehended, id., the officers searched Burley's vehicle but “did not find any drugs or weapons.” Id. ¶ 225. Jenkins instructed Guinn “to call another officer and ask him to bring the ‘stuff' or ‘shit, '” a reference “to a stash of illegal drugs to plant on innocent victims, ” id. ¶ 226, so as to justify the illegal conduct of the police officers. Id. ¶ 227. In addition to Jenkins, Guinn, and Suiter, Officers Gladstone and Willard “were also present on the scene.” Id. ¶ 228.

         According to plaintiffs, the officers “planted approximately 32 grams of heroin on the floor of” Burley's vehicle. Id. ¶ 228. Thereafter, Suiter “was instructed to search the car.” Id. ¶ 229. During the search of Burley's vehicle, Suiter “signaled that he found something.” Id. ¶ 230. The officers then arrested Burley and Matthews. Id. ¶ 231.

         Later that day, Jenkins “authored a fabricated statement of probable cause . . . .” Id. ¶ 234. He claimed that “‘32 individually wrapped pieces of plastic containing a tan powder substance each weighing approximately one gram (all of which was suspected high purity heroin)' was recovered from Mr. Burley's car.” Id. Although Jenkins “knew that he had planted” the heroin, he “signed the statement affirmatively declaring that his statements were true under the penalties of perjury.” Id. ¶ 235.

         On February 10, 2011, Burley and Matthews were indicted in federal court in Case RDB-11-074, and charged with the following federal offenses: (1) conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and (2) possession with intent to distribute heroin. Id. ¶ 238. In addition, Burley was charged in State court with “vehicular manslaughter.” Id. ¶ 239.

         Mindful of the harsh sentences meted out in federal court, the use of statewide juries, and the difficulty in establishing police misconduct, id. ¶¶ 240-243, plaintiffs determined that they had “no real choice to make.” Id. ¶ 241. Accordingly, on June 10, 2011, Burley and Matthews agreed to plead guilty to “possession with intent to distribute heroin.” Id. ¶ 243; see Case RDB-11-074, ECF 54, ECF 55. And, Burley “agreed to plead guilty to the vehicular manslaughter charge in August 2011.” ECF 23, ¶ 243. Matthews was sentenced to a period of 46 months' incarceration. Id. ¶ 245. Burley was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 15 years for the federal drug offense, concurrent with a 10-year sentence imposed by the State for vehicular manslaughter. Id. ¶ 244.

         On September 9, 2013, after Matthews served over two-and-a-half years in federal custody, he “began a three-year supervised release term.” Id. ¶ 246. Burley “served six-and-a-half years in state prison” before he was “transferred to federal custody on February 3, 2017.” Id. ¶ 247. He was “released later that year, ” after he was exonerated. Id.

         As part of a federal investigation into the GTTF, discussed infra, “prosecutors interviewed Mr. Burley about his arrest.” ECF 23, ¶ 250. At that point, Burley and Matthews “learn[ed] who had planted the heroin” in Burley's vehicle on April 28, 2010. Id. ¶ 251. Plaintiffs ascertained that “the purpose of the warrantless search and seizure” committed by the GTTF officers was “to rob [plaintiffs] of any drugs or money they may have possessed[.]” Id. ¶ 232. Moreover, plaintiffs aver that the officers “possessed the planted heroin because they had stolen it from other victims[.]” Id. ¶ 233. But, plaintiffs maintain that it was not until Burley's interview with federal prosecutors that they “had confirmation that the statement of probable cause prepared by” the officers “had been falsified.” Id. ¶ 252.

         Initially, in light of what transpired with the GTTF, the government moved to reduce Burley's sentence to time served. Id. ¶ 253. Judge Bennett granted that motion after a hearing on August 31, 2017. Id. ¶ 254. Upon further investigation, however, the government “moved to vacate” the convictions of both Burley and Matthews. Id. ¶ 257; see also Burley, RDB-11-74, ECF 115. Following a hearing on December 18, 2017, Judge Bennett granted the government's motion, vacating plaintiffs' federal drug convictions. ECF 23, ¶ 258; see also Burley, RDB-11-74, ECF 118.

         Moreover, in a joint motion, the State and Burley “moved to withdraw his guilty plea relating to the vehicular manslaughter conviction[.]” Id. ¶ 259. On April 9, 2018, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City granted that motion. Id.

         C. The GTTF

         As noted, the GTTF was created by the BPD in 2007. ECF 23, ¶ 56. Plaintiffs allege that the GTTF engaged in “unconstitutional conduct, ” which was “permitted and condoned” by the BPD. Id. ¶ 203.

         On February 23, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted seven members of the GTTF: Jenkins, along with detectives Momodu Gondo, Evodio Hendrix, Daniel Hersl, Jemell Rayan, Marcus Taylor, and Maurice Ward. See United States v. Momodu Gondo, et al., CCB-17-106, ECF 1 (Indictment); see ECF 137 (Superseding Indictment). They were charged with RICO conspiracy and numerous RICO offenses. ECF 23, ¶ 158. Another GTTF officer, Thomas Allers, was separately charged with RICO offenses in Case CCB-17-452. And, on November 30, 3017, in Case CCB-17-0638, a grand jury returned a separate indictment against Jenkins in connection with his execution of the false statement of probable cause that led to plaintiffs' federal prosecution. Id. ¶ 255. In particular, Jenkins was charged with violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 242 and 1519.[8]

         According to the SAC, the RICO indictment revealed that the GTTF officers engaged, inter alia, in the following acts, ECF 23, ¶ 160:

• Conducting traffic stops of vehicles and stealing money, property, and narcotics from the vehicle occupants; and
• Preparing false and fraudulent official incident and arrest reports, reports of property seized from arrestees, and charging documents to conceal the fact that the defendants stole money, property, and narcotics from individuals.

         All but two defendants entered pleas of guilty in the Rico case, CCB-17-106. See id., ECF 156, 157, 195, 215, 257. Rayam pleaded guilty on October 10, 2017. Id. ¶ 161. See also CCB-17-106, ECF 196 (Rayam Plea Agreement). In Rayam's plea agreement, he admitted, inter alia, ECF 23, ¶ 161, that he

[r]obbed civilians he detained and in some cases arrested and stole money and drugs from them. RAYAM did this beginning in at least 2009 or 2010 when he joined the GTTF. At times, RAYAM shared the proceeds with co-defendants Momodu GONDO (“GONDO”), Wayne Jenkins (“JENKINS”), Daniel Hersl (“HERSL”), Marcus Taylor (“TAYLOR”), Sergeant A and others, and on other occasions, he kept all the proceeds for himself . . . . RAYAM also sold, through associates of his, drugs that JENKINS gave him and split the proceeds of those sales. JENKINS obtained the drugs by robbing detainees and arrestees.

         On January 5, 2018, Jenkins pleaded guilty “to racketeering conspiracy, racketeering, two counts of Hobbs Act Robbery, falsification of records in a federal investigation, and four counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.” ECF 23, ¶ 99; see also CCB-17-106, ECF 254 (Jenkins Plea Agreement); CCB-17-0638, ECF 5 (Jenkins Plea Agreement). Jenkins acknowledged, inter alia, that he and other members of the BPD “authored false incident and arrest reports, engaged in warrantless stops and seizures without probable cause, made false arrests, created false charging documents, and planted drugs on defendants.” ECF 23, ¶ 99. Also, Jenkins “expressly admitted that heroin had been planted” in Burley's vehicle on April 28, 2010. Id. ¶ 100.

         Specifically, Jenkins admitted, id.:

• “[B]etween in or about April 28, 2010 and November 30, 2017, he knowingly concealed, covered up and falsified and made false entries in an official Statement of Probable Cause . . . reflecting his actions, and actions of his fellow Baltimore Police Department officers, in relation to the seizure of heroin from an automobile operated by U.B. [Mr. Burley] and in which B.M. [Mr. Matthews] was a passenger on April 28, 2010, with the intent to impede, obstruct and influence the investigation and proper administration” of that matter.
• “[W]hile acting under color of law, he willfully deprived” Mr. Burley and Mr. Matthews “of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from the deprivation of liberty without due process of law, which includes the right to be free from incarceration due to the fabrication of evidence by a law enforcement officer.
• He submitted a false Statement of Probable Cause in which he claimed that drugs had been recovered from Mr. Burley's car, even though he knew that the drugs had been planted.
• He failed to correct his false statement during the entire length of Mr. Burley's and Mr. Matthews' incarceration.
• “[W]hile acting under color of law, ” he willfully deprived Mr. Burley and Mr. Matthews of the constitutional right to “be free from incarceration due to a law enforcement officer's willful failure to disclose exculpatory evidence to a prosecutor.”
• He “willfully violated his ongoing obligation to disclose to a prosecutor the fact that he had lied in a Statement of Probable Cause that he knew would be relied upon, and that was in fact relied upon” to detain Mr. Burley and Mr. Matthews.

         Hersl and Taylor proceeded to trial before Judge Blake beginning in January 2018. See CCB-17-106, ECF 310- ECF 334. The jury found both defendants guilty of RICO conspiracy and RICO offenses. Id., ECF 343.

         According to plaintiffs, at the RICO trial, Gondo testified for the government and stated, ECF 23, ¶ 96:

Defendant Wayne Jenkins was very reckless, you know. I mean, he was just out of control, putting citizens at risk, you know, driving on the side of the street, going in people bumpers. I just never saw anything like this . . . . This dude is out of control. . . . It was crazy. Yeah. His -- his tactics in law enforcement, you know, he was -- you know what I mean? He was -- it was crazy. It was bad. It was bad.

         Hendrix also testified at the RICO trial. He described Jenkins as “a ‘golden boy' and ‘prince' within the BPD who was ‘untouchable' because he was looked after by higher-ups within the department.” Id. ¶ 98.

         In May 2017, then BPD Commissioner Kevin Davis “announced that he was effectively ending plainclothes policing in Baltimore, explaining that plainclothes officers were the subject of a disproportionate number of complaints and had adopted a ‘cutting-corners mindset.'” Id. ¶ 173. Commissioner Davis also noted “that requiring officers to wear police uniforms would create a level of accountability that had been previously absent.” Id. However, in 2018, former BPD Commissioner Darryl De Sousa “revived the plainclothes units.” Id. ¶ 174.

         D. Pattern and Practice; Customs and Policies

         At length, plaintiffs have set forth detailed allegations concerning “rampant misconduct” by officers of the BPD. ECF 23, ¶ 56. And, they claim that BPD's supervisors knew of and “condoned” the “pattern or practice” of misconduct. ECF 23, ¶¶ 33-34, 182.

         According to plaintiffs, the “unconstitutional conduct at issue in this case” constituted a “‘custom or usage' or pattern or practice of the BPD.” Id. ¶ 190. They describe the conduct to include “illegally stopping, detaining, searching, and seizing persons; permitting the use of fabricated evidence to support unconstitutional stops and seizures; and suppressing exculpatory and/or impeachment evidence.” Id.; see also Id. ¶¶ 69, 70.

         Plaintiffs allege that for many years the BPD has “deployed elite units comprised of plainclothes officers, ” including “flex squads, ” Special Enforcement Teams (‘SETs')”, and the VCID. Id. ¶ 36. The units were given “wide latitude to investigate and arrest persons suspected of dealing drugs and/or gun violations[.]” Id. Further, plaintiffs allege that plainclothes officers were “known for driving unmarked vehicles towards groups of people, jumping out of their vehicles, and conducting aggressive searches of anyone in the vicinity.” Id. ¶ 38.

         According to plaintiffs, “the BPD's plainclothes officers and units have been a frequent and recurrent source of unconstitutional conduct” since at least the early 2000s. Id. ¶¶ 39, 181. Moreover, plaintiffs claim that the Department was “on notice, from at least 2003, of the potential for abuse associated with officers who had wide latitude to police in a manner similar to that of the flex squad officers.” Id. ¶ 50. They add that, since at least the early 2000s, “the BPD had repeated notice” that “its plainclothes officers engaged in a widespread pattern of flagrant unconstitutional violations” through, inter alia, “convictions of its police officers, complaints and suits lodged against their police officers, public reporting, failed polygraph tests, and notifications from state prosecutors[.]” Id. ¶ 209.

         Plaintiffs assert that although the BPD knew of “the recurrent misconduct by its plainclothes officers, ” the Department “failed to establish reasonable and necessary systems to train, supervise, investigate, and hold accountable” those officers. Id. ¶ 171; see id., ¶ 195. Further, BPD supervisors knew “that plainclothes units were the source of a disproportionate share of complaints against the BPD for many years[.]” Id. ¶ 182. Yet, according to plaintiffs, the “BPD continued to permit plainclothes officers to roam the streets with high levels of discretion and little supervision” and “did not institute any meaningful oversight” of the plainclothes units, including flex squads, SETs, and the VCID. Id.

         Plaintiffs support their allegations with several concrete instances of police misconduct. They also identify numerous individuals exonerated after wrongful conviction. Id. ¶ 70.

         For example, plaintiffs note that on January 16, 2003, former Judge Andre M. Davis, then on the United States District Court, “rebuked several BPD officers for their conduct in arresting a defendant named Mason A. Weaver.” Id. ¶ 40.[9] At the close of a two-day hearing, the court granted the defendant's motion to suppress “due to the unconstitutional conduct of the BPD officers.” Id. ¶ 41. According to the SAC, Judge Davis stated, inter alia, id.:

• “That the police affidavit used to secure the search warrant contained ‘knowing lies.'”
• “‘These officers had no justification to seize Mr. Weaver . . . handcuff him and transport him back to - I almost fell out of my chair when I heard that yesterday - transport him back from the shopping center to the apartments and, using the key they had seized from him, go into his apartment.'”
• “‘Where are they learning this stuff? . . . Clearly, this was a roll of the constitutional dice on the part of these officers.'”
• “‘I am here to protect everybody's constitutional rights. Everybody's. And I don't understand why the police ...

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