By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO
Over the past several days Baltimore has suffered from both the chaos of unrelenting violence and the ongoing legal tribulations of the agency tasked with stopping it.
On Aug. 8, Baltimore Police Sergeant Isaac Carrington was gunned down in front of his Northeast Baltimore home by a masked assailant in broad daylight; an act that elicited both an outpouring of support from residents and anxiety an already sky-high crime rate had risen to a new level of brazenness.
Recently, Carrington delivered an inspirational message from his hospital bed, with Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison by his side. “I’ll be back,” Carrington said as he continues to fight back from the attack, which left him on life support for a time.
Meanwhile, several members of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), were sentenced or found guilty for a variety of crimes that suggested the city’s efforts to implement reform seem to be still lacking.
But, the apparent lack of progress on both ends, tamping down of crime both inside and outside the department prompted frustration from community leaders and residents alike.
“Crime continues to soar out of control while changes within the police department are piecemealed at a snail’s pace,” State Senator Jill P. Carter told the AFRO.
“We needed a complete overhaul from top to bottom, but we’ve only gotten more bloodshed while needed changes creep along.”
Carrington’s ordeal began when the 22-year BPD veteran was standing on his front lawn on Aug. 8, around 4PM talking to a neighbor. Witnesses say a blue Acura drove onto the block and stopped after a gunman emerged. The masked assailant demanded money. Both Carrington and a neighbor fled, but the gunman chased Carrington and shot him several times.
Over the weekend police stopped a vehicle that resembled the car and detained the driver and a passenger. However, no charges have been filed against either. Carrington is currently in stable condition.
The violent shooting of Sgt. Carrington only heightened anxiety that a recently rolled-out policing strategy focused on violent “hot spots” was not working very effectively.
“We have Inadequate deployment , deployment must mirror crime, violence and homicides,” former Baltimore NAACP President Marvin “Doc” Cheatham said.
But, concern about crime and the levels of corruption within the BPD found equal footing among community members, particularly after a series of pending cases against BPD officers were resolved last week.
“Our city is in the throes of death. Needed reforms can’t keep pace with the carnage. A sense of greater urgency is needed along with zero tolerance for the ineptitude that continues to prevail.” Carter said.
Last week former Baltimore police officer Arthur Williams was sentenced to nine months in prison for beating a civilian that was captured on video in August of 2018. The high-profile beatdown garnered national attention and prompted Judge Yolanda Tanner to scold Miller during sentencing.
“A citizen does get to walk away from you, even if you’re a police officer,” The Baltimore Sun reported.
But, Miller was not the only officer to face adjudication.
Earlier last week Officer Michael Gentil was found guilty of first-degree assault for pointing his gun at a man he nearly hit with his car in January of 2018.
A witness testified that Gentil jumped out of his car and pointed his gun at the victim, then proceeded to kick him in the head, which caused his chin to split open. In a statement Gentil said the victim had thrown an unknown object at his car. However, Gentil was found guilty after a bench trial.
But, even a high-profile murder case was mired in controversy over the alleged behavior of a BPD officer.
The Baltimore Sun also reported Homicide Detective Kevin Brown was charged with driving under the influence in September of 2018 after getting into an accident operating a city owned vehicle. The charges also included possessing a handgun while intoxicated.
Brown was a key witness in the murder of seven-year old Taylor Hayes who was shot and killed in the back seat of a car in June of 2018.
This week, Keon Gray faced murder charges for his role in her death. But the case hit a roadblock when Brown contradicted himself on the witness stand about the make of the car that was spotted leaving the scene.