Baltimore, MD – A retired Baltimore police sergeant on Friday admitted to helping plant a toy gun on a man who had been run down by a police vehicle.
Retired Baltimore Police Sergeant Keith Gladstone, 52, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on May 31 to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights, The Baltimore Sun reported.
He will be facing up to 10 years in prison at a sentencing hearing on Sept. 13.
Gladstone has been described as both a “mentor” and a “collaborator” with former Baltimore Police Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, who led the notorious Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF), The Baltimore Sun reported.
Federal prosecutors said GTTF members had acted as “both cops and robbers,” using their police authority to identify drug dealers who were good targets to rob.
Jenkins is serving 25 years in federal prison for crimes he committed while he was a police official, The Baltimore Sun reported.
During his trial, officers testified that Jenkins made them carry toy guns to use as throw-down guns they could plant on people if they ever needed to justify why they shot someone.
And that’s exactly what happened in March of 2014 when then-Sgt. Jenkins ran down Demetric Simon with his car while chasing him, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Prosecutors said then-Sgt. Gladstone was eating with two other officers when Sgt. Jenkins called him in a panic looking for a BB gun.
Gladstone’s plea agreement said that he went to the home of one of the officers he was with to retrieve a BB gun and took it to where Jenkins had struck Simon with his vehicle, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Jenkins claimed in his statement that he had seen Simon with a weapon before he hit him, and then claimed to have found the BB gun under a nearby car.
The federal indictment said that Gladstone had met with one of the other officers who was there that night and expressed concern about exposure in the gun-planting incident, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Gladstone was paranoid he would be recorded so he made the other officer meet him in the YMCA swimming pool to discuss the incident.
He told the other officer that if asked, he should say they were on the scene providing perimeter security that night, according to The Baltimore Sun.
As part of his plea deal on May 31, Gladstone had to admit that he told a witness to lie to law enforcement.
The Force Investigation Team was tasked with investigating Simon’s death and The Baltimore Sun determined that Sgt. Gladstone’s name does not appear anywhere in their 500-page file.
Sgt. Gladstone initially retired from the Baltimore Police Department in 2012, but he returned a year later and stayed until late 2017, retiring for a second time shortly after the GTTF indictments were announced. He was a member of the police force for 24 years total.
"He made some serious mistakes in judgment, and it has been really eating at him for a while. He wanted to get this over with. He wanted to take responsibility. He wanted to pay his debt to the citizens of Baltimore City when he wasn't doing the right thing," Gladstone’s attorney, David Irwin, told reporters outside the courthouse after his client entered the guilty plea.
Gladstone’s indictment forced Baltimore police to suspend three other active-duty officers pending investigations by the Internal Affairs Division, The New York Times reported.
“Prosecuting criminals who work in police agencies is essential both to protect our communities and to support the many honorable officers whose reputations they unfairly tarnish,” U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert K. Hur said in a statement. “This is not about policing, it is about a criminal conspiracy.”
Gladstone is also named as a defendant in a lawsuit by the family of an 87-year-old man who was killed when GTTF members crashed with a suspect at the end of a chase, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Jenkins, during his own trial, admitted that drugs had been planted on Umar Burley, the man police were chasing.