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City Board of Estimates to consider more than $500K payout related to GTTF lawsuit


By David Collins

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    BALTIMORE, Maryland (WBAL) — On Wednesday, Baltimore’s Board of Estimates will consider a more than half-million-dollar payout related to the now-disbanded Gun Trace Task Force.

Robert Johnson said in 2014, two members of the GTTF planted a gun in his car. He spent four years in prison for it.

The lawsuits are adding up as the running tally is $13 million. The amount of damage the unit caused in terms of destroying trust in policing can’t be calculated.

The GTTF was a city police unit that robbed citizens, falsified reports, planted evidence and collected unearned overtime pay.

City Council President Nick Mosby said the unit undermined community trust in policing.

“Without trust in the community, it is really hard to sustainably drive down crime and have the public safety efforts we have deserve in the city,” Mosby said.

Back in 2014, during an illegal traffic stop, two GTTF members planted a gun in Johnson’s vehicle. Johnson was on probation at the time, and he spent four years in prison.

The city board of estimates is expected to approve a $525,000 payout to Johnson.

“We are going to do right by those who were unfortunately preyed upon by these individuals but also, we are going to now, as we have been continuing to put things in place to make sure those type of things don’t happen again,” Mayor Brandon Scott said.

This proposed settlement is the latest in a string of claims against the city. If approved, Baltimore will have paid out more than $13 million in claims associated with the GTTF.

Last November, Umar Burley and Brent Matthews got almost $8 million because of their 2010 encounter with GTTF where members planted drugs on them.

During a high-speed chase by GTTF members, Burley’s car crashed killing a man in another vehicle. Burley and Matthews both went to jail but were exonerated in the course of the GTTF investigation.

That probe netted convictions of more than a dozen officers and associates of the unit.

“This is the latest in the city’s effort to show residents who were terrorized by folks who were supposed to be solving violent crime who were actually causing undue harm to residents and we are not going to stand for, but we are going to honor the things that they went through,” Scott said.

Lawyers representing Johnson do not want to comment until after the board of estimates acts.

According to the board of estimates agenda, the city offered Johnson $525,000 to resolve the matter and for him to dismiss all claims against GTTF and the police department.

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