The Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People formally asked the FBI on Wednesday to look into errors that prompted the dismissal of a dozen internal cases of police misconduct and could result in more being thrown out.
In a letter to Amy Jo Lyons, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore office, Marvin L. "Doc" Cheatham requested "an urgent and extensive investigation" into the Police Department after reports that 12 internal disciplinary cases had been tossed because key documents had been mishandled.
Many accused officers have long maintained that the discipline process is flawed. Last month, a department-employed prosecutor of internal misconduct cases, JoAnn Woodson-Branche, was fired, with the city police union claiming she was responsible for numerous errors that violated officers' rights.
Reached at her home Wednesday, Woodson-Branche declined to comment on the allegations but said she would be issuing a statement at a later time.
Cheatham said in the letter that the "reasoning given [for the cases being dropped] is suspicious, the timing is suspicious, the affects [sic] are troubling."
"Why was only Ms. Woodson-Branch [sic] fired - her action purportedly affected to so many," Cheatham wrote. "Some office and some officials, clearly, had to have some oversight in so many cases."
One of the cases involved an alleged racial discrimination charge against two white supervisors. Cheatham had personally urged the Police Department to take action on the case and "ensure justice" after it appeared the case might slip by the deadline to charge the accused officers. Police officials now say that the case has been scrapped, saying it was one of several that were mishandled.