Police Files Won't Be Opened

August 07, 2009|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

A city judge ruled Thursday that internal affairs files for officers whose misconduct cases were tossed out in a recent wave of dismissals should not be turned over to defense attorneys seeking to question the credibility of those officers.

Assistant State's Attorney Gerard B. Volatile said Circuit Court Judge Timothy J. Doory, after reviewing the files in his chambers, ruled that because there was not a finding of guilt or innocence, the officers were entitled to privacy.

The ruling came at a pretrial hearing for two men convicted of murder whose convictions were overturned on appeal. Prosecutors accuse Clayton "Coco" Colkley, 33, and Darnell "Pooh" Fields, 29, of participating in a gang war that left three dead and four wounded in East Baltimore in 2003.

In 2006, several of the officers involved in that case were charged by internal Police Department investigators with theft, based on allegations that they abused overtime to, in some cases, double their salaries. The officers denied the accusations.

The overtime case was tossed out in June, along with at least 50 other internal misconduct cases, after police fired their in-house prosecutor.

In a court hearing this week, defense attorney Tony N. Garcia said the files from the theft investigation would show that police investigators conducted surveillance on the officers and found that they were not being truthful about their whereabouts while collecting overtime. He sought to use the files to demonstrate "persistent bad acts" by the officers.

Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said state law requires that internal affairs records be kept private unless a judge orders that they be turned over as part of a civil or criminal proceeding. Gene Ryan, vice president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said the union supports Doory's decision.

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