Inside one of America's most corrupt police squads
Parts of this story are reconstructed from trial testimony, evidence and publicly available records. It contains strong language throughout.
Four vehicles fly down a darkened, rain-soaked street. It’s summertime, nearly midnight in downtown Baltimore.
The lead car, a white Chevrolet, is driven by a 34-year-old man, his foot pressed to the pedal. On his tail are three unmarked police cars driven by members of the Gun Trace Task Force, a plainclothes gun recovery unit.
The chase started after the Chevrolet ran a red light. Pursuing the vehicle would be a violation of Baltimore Police Department policy, but the detectives suspect the man in the Chevy has guns, drugs, cash or all three.
“Might be able to get somethin’ dirty,” detective Daniel Hersl says excitedly.
“Light him up,” detective Jemell Rayam responds.
The pursuit proceeds to the sounds of revving engines and heavy rain pelting the windows - there are no sirens.
The Chevrolet blows through another red light. He almost makes it across the intersection when a Hyundai Sonata going through the green collides with the driver’s side of the Chevy, launching both cars up on to the pavement. The Chevy crumples into a motionless wreck.
“Shit!” exclaims detective Momodu Gondo from behind the wheel. “Damn.”
“Keep going,” responds his partner, Rayam. “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know,” repeats Rayam. “I don’t know.”
Without stopping, the detectives radio back and forth between their cars.
“We ain’t look too crazy, did we?” asks Gondo. “They got cameras all up and down that shit.”
“I can get on the air and say I just got a report of an accident,” says Rayam.
“No, Wayne said - I wouldn’t say nothin’ yet,” responds Hersl.
Several blocks away, two of the three police vehicles pull to the side of the road and the officers confer. Gondo thinks he only had his lights on at the very beginning of the chase - maybe no one noticed them.