The motion contains a section titled, “GTTF Tactics and Pattern of Behavior,” referring to the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) scandal, which began in 2017 when seven plainclothes Baltimore police detectives were federally indicted on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges for their role in misconduct including dealing drugs, robbing citizens, lying in police reports, and overtime theft. Since the arrest of the seven GTTF members, five more officers have been indicted, including Hankard and Vignola, the officers who shot Richards. In September, Vignola was charged for his role in helping GTTF leader Wayne Jenkins plant a BB gun on a man Jenkins ran over in 2014 and lying about it to a grand jury. In January, Hankard was charged for his involvement in the BB gun planting and another incident in 2015 where officers planted drugs on a man and Hankard allegedly lied on the search warrant.
Hankard and Vignola’s “movements and actions on [the day of the Richards shooting] were largely reminiscent of GTTF behavior,” the motion says.
In the aftermath of the GTTF scandal, McNutt attempted to rebrand his surveillance plane as an effective tool for exposing police misconduct. Last year, I obtained police documents related to the Richards shooting, including the evidence packet prepared by Persistent Surveillance Systems for the police that contained images from the plane. “Observed vehicle behavior matches BPD story of vehicle backing into officers but not into officers [sic] vehicle. Officers [sic] vehicle was in front of suspect car,” the evidence packet says. McNutt has also claimed the Carroll County prosecutors and Baltimore Police were not interested in footage captured by the plane. “I was amazed how disinterested they were in an officer-involved shooting,” McNutt told me in an interview for a Baltimore Beat story about the plane. Bates said that when he read the Baltimore Beat piece, he realized that McNutt had footage of the Richards shooting and not just images.
“We had been told that based on discovery that the officers’ rendition of the facts was corroborated pretty much by Mr. McNutt,” Bates said. “Now I realized it wasn’t corroborated by the plane.”