A former Baltimore Police detective — who previously was convicted of federal corruption charges, including conspiring with others to plant a BB gun on a man who had been run over by another officer’s car in 2014 — was sentenced 30 months in prison on Thursday.
Detective Robert Hankard, who was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, is the third officer to be convicted in the incident, which became public as a result of the federal investigation into the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force.
The man police ran over, Demetric Simon, filed a lawsuit against all the police officers involved in framing him, including Hankard, as well as the department as a whole. The case is still pending.
Keith Gladstone, a former Baltimore police sergeant who pleaded guilty to his role in the gun-planting scheme, was among those to testify against Hankard at his trial in April. Gladstone admitted on the stand to a number of serious crimes, including robbing suspects and selling drugs, but was protected from self-incrimination with an immunity agreement.
Gladstone claimed Hankard gave Gladstone and another officer, Carmine Vignola, the BB gun Gladstone would eventually plant to help GTTF Sgt. Wayne Jenkins after he ran down Simon. Jenkins headed the GTTF and later pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges.
Additionally, jurors in April convicted Hankard of lying in 2015 on search warrant affidavits and police reports to cover up times he violated people’s constitutional protections against unwarranted searches and seizures.
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In both instances, Hankard filed police reports and affidavits stating that officers had not entered a residence, when in both occasions they had. The suspects arrested in both cases had been the subject of lengthy Baltimore police investigations Hankard was directing, according to testimony.
Hankard’s attorney, David Benowitz, had argued at trial that the inaccuracies in the reports didn’t amount to a crime because they didn’t make a material difference in the substance of the reports.
In one of the reports, Hankard appeared to have forged a sergeant’s signature.
Gladstone admitted during testimony to planting drugs inside’s a suspect’s truck to justify the arrest and subsequent search of their motel room. Gladstone said Hankard knew he had planted them.
Hankard’s lawyers denied that was the case and pointed to Gladstone’s previous statements to prosecutors in which he told them no one knew he planted the drugs. The suspect, Douglas Brooks, testified in court he didn’t have heroin in his truck, only in the motel room, the inside of which officers had not seen.
Hankard was hired by the Baltimore Police Department in 2007 and spent the second half of his career as a detective in specialized drug investigation squads. He made $107,411.97 in fiscal year 2019, his last full year of employment, on a base salary of $81,464, according to city employment records.
This story will be updated.