Baltimore City Deliberates  $315,000 In Back Pay To Three Officers Cleared Of Domestic Violence, Assault, And Extortion Crimes

A Baltimore City Police car drives through the city. Photo by Elvert Barnes via Flickr.

What’s happening?

Three Baltimore Police officers—with recently voided charges related to extortion, domestic violence, and assault—will receive $315,000 in back pay and a return to active duty, according to documents given to the Board of Estimates, Mark Reutter reports for Baltimore Brew. The city’s police department has an agreement with the local chapter of the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 3, which requires the city to compensate officers relieved of criminal charges with back wages and benefits during the period of their suspension.

Who are the officers involved?

Officer Leon P. Riley was arrested in August 2020—a few months after a viral video showed him wrapping an arm around a man’s neck during an arrest in West Baltimore. State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged Riley with first and second degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct. Despite a 2019 department rule barring officers from using a chokehold unless deadly force is necessary,  Circuit Judge Philip S. Jackson dismissed the charges following a two-day bench trial. Riley is eligible for $137,039 and about 15 weeks of vacation and sick leave. 

Also in August 2020, a Baltimore County grand jury indicted Detective Juan A. Diaz for aiding a  Baltimore homicide detective in kidnapping and extorting $3,500 from a home contractor. Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger dismissed the charges against Diaz before his trial was supposed to begin last June, and the detective is now set to receive $168,707 in back wages. 

The third officer, Officer Thomas J. Kirby, has been the subject of 15 complaints and the perpetrator of 47 use of force incidents between 2015 and 2019, according to a 2021 report by the ACLU of Maryland. The department suspended Kirby after he was arrested last June for holding a loaded gun to his girlfriend’s rib cage and threatening to kill her. Shellenberger’s office ultimately dropped the charges against him arguing insufficient evidence. 

Anything else I should know? 

Riley’s settlement requires approval from Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, and the matter was originally scheduled to go before the Board of Estimates on Wednesday, Nov. 16. However, Comptroller Bill Henry requested that the board defer the approval pending more information on the three cases.

You can read more here.

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