Internal misconduct charges in a dozen cases against Baltimore police officers have been thrown out – the first of what union officials say could be a wave of cases dropped on technical grounds, putting accused officers back on the streets, reports the Baltimore Sun. One case involves a much-publicized incident in which a black homicide detective said he was forced to review a racist Web site. Michael Davey, an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, has been notified about eight cases, one related to domestic violence and several centered around failure to take police action, such as not writing reports.
The move comes a month after the Police Department fired its chief of trial boards, JoAnn Woodson-Branche, who prosecuted internal disciplinary cases. At the time, the police union called for all cases to be dismissed, contending that Woodson-Branche had been mishandling charging documents. More cases could be dropped, and those that aren’t thrown out could become the subject of lawsuits. The union estimates as many as 40 officers could be affected. Marvin L. “Doc” Cheatham, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP, said he received a call from Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III in which Bealefeld informed him of the impending move. Cheatham said Bealefeld sounded “irritated and regretful.”