Baltimore’s spending board approved a $575,000 settlement stemming from an arrest made by members of the city’s Gun Trace Task Force, bringing the total paid out as a result of the rogue force’s actions to more than $15 million, reports the Baltimore Sun. The five-member Board of Estimates voted unanimously in favor of the settlement with Darnell Earl, who sued the Baltimore Police Department and three members of the task force over a 2015 arrest that resulted in a year and a half of jail time. He was a passenger in a car in 2015 that was stopped by police officers Marcus Taylor, Evodio Hendrix and Wayne Jenkins, according to Deputy Solicitor Ebony Thompson.
The officers said they found a firearm under Earl’s seat. Earl had prior convictions for illegal possession of a gun and was charged with multiple firearms-related offenses as a result of the stop. He pleaded guilty to one charge. After revelations that the task force routinely violated people’s rights and stole drugs and money, Taylor, Hendrix and Jenkins pleaded guilty to federal charges. Earl’s conviction, along with many others related to the force, was vacated due to credibility issues with the officers. Earl sued the department, alleging numerous violations of state and federal law, arguing there was no probable cause for the traffic stop and that the gun was planted in the vehicle by the officers. “These lawsuits exemplify the need for us to continue this administration’s efforts in rebuilding the trust of our police department,” Thompson said.