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Prosecutors Offer Opposing Stories In Baltimore Case

When Baltimore police arrested Keyon Paylor in 2014, one of two things was true. Either Paylor hid a gun that the police found, or the police planted the gun and framed Paylor. The two cannot both be true. Even so, the U.S. Department of Justice presented the first version as true while convicting Paylor of being a felon in possession of a firearm, then presented the second version as true while prosecuting a corrupt police detective who had arrested Paylor, according to ProPublica. When Paylor challenged his conviction, the use of conflicting theories by the U.S. Department of Justice did not sit well with a judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “Which is the truth?” Judge Stephanie Thacker asked an assistant U.S. attorney during an oral argument. “Does the government not share at least my concern that the government has talked out of both sides of its mouth on this case?” The case is another in a string of cases in which prosecutors offer one version of the truth while trying one person, then offer a very different version while trying another.

Four Baltimore police officers arrested Paylor. Detective Daniel Hersl said the officers were in an unmarked police car. They saw Paylor walking. When Paylor noticed the officers, he fled down the street. The officers followed in their car and saw Paylor arrive at his front porch, where he removed what appeared to be a black handgun from his waistband and put it under a chair cushion. Police lifted the cushion and found a loaded handgun. Paylor’s version of what happened differs. His lawyers say that he was simply walking home. When the police detained him in his home downstairs, one officer went upstairs and stole thousands of dollars from a bedroom dresser. Police planted the gun on his porch and framed him, Paylor said. After his arrest, he called relatives from a jail phone; in recorded conversations, he denied the gun was his, claimed the police stole his money, and said, “Hersl plays a dirty game.” Judge Thacker wrote: “The Government’s two-faced positions and contrary statements before the court are clearly at odds with the notion of justice.”


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