Over the weekend, the New York Times published a story titled, “`Testilying’ by Police: A Stubborn Problem.”

“Officer Martinez tapped the bag with his foot and felt something hard, he testified. He opened the bag, leading to the discovery of a Ruger 9-millimeter handgun and the arrest of the woman,” reported the Times March 18.

Detective Marcus Taylor (left) and Daniel Hersl (right) were convicted of robbery, racketeering, and conspiracy in a trial that’s part of an ongoing federal investigation into corruption among rogue members of Baltimore’s beleaguered police force. The New York Times recently noted that police officers in New York lie frequently while testifying in court. (Baltimore Police Department via AP)

“But a hallway surveillance camera captured the true story: There’s no laundry bag or gun in sight as Officer Martinez and other investigators question the woman in the doorway and then stride into the apartment. Inside, they did find a gun, but little to link it to the woman, Kimberly Thomas. Still, had the camera not captured the hallway scene, Officer Martinez’s testimony might well have sent her to prison.”

The concept of cops “tesilying” has received a lot of attention in the last three years, connected to the trial of the officers connected to the death of Freddie Gray, the case of the Gun Trace Task Force, as well as others. But, Baltimore residents argue officers lying in court has been a problem for decades.

According to a report in the Baltimore Sun in January, a Baltimore Police Department (BPD), detective remained on the job for weeks, after he admitted lying in court. Det. Sharod Watson said he saw a suspected drug dealer, “on a daily basis” for about 18 months, even witnessing him make a sale. However, Watson was forced to admit that testimony was “factually impossible” when prosecutors presented evidence that the suspect he spoke of, Isadore White, had been in jail for 12 of those 18 months. A jury acquitted White of all charges.

Also according to the Sun, Watson had remained on duty at least up until last month working in a special BPD unit created after the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF), was disbanded.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa has formed a corruption investigation unit within BPD, in the wake of the GTTF scandal, which saw multiple police officers convicted for stealing, planting drugs and selling drugs.


Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor