Former Baltimore police sergeant 51-year-old Keith Gladstone, who retired in 2017, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deprive civil rights on Friday, May 31 after admitting to planting a replica toy gun in order to justify a fellow officer running over a man in northeast Baltimore.
Gladstone also admitted he told a witness to lie about the incident if they were ever questioned.
“Prosecuting criminals who work in police agencies is essential both to protect our communities and to support the many honorable officers whose reputations they unfairly tarnish,” U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur explained in a statement.
Gladstone, who joined the department in 1992 and was promoted to police sergeant in 2011, has been described as both a “mentor” and a “collaborator” with former Baltimore police sergeant Wayne Jenkins, who led the infamous Gun Trace Task Force.
Federal prosecutors alleged the GTTF acted as “both cops and robbers,” using their police authority and street networking to identify drug dealers who were good targets rob.
One victim, who was robbed for $10,000, ended up murdered after he was unable to repay the drug debt.
Officers testified during his trial that Jenkins, who is currently serving 25 years in federal prison for crimes he committed while working the GTTF, made them carry toy guns to use as throw-down guns to plant on people should they ever need to justify why they shot or killed someone.
And that’s what happened when then-Sgt. Jenkins ran down Demetric Simon while chasing him with his car, according to Blue Lives Matter.
Gladstone was eating with two other officers when Sgt. Jenkins called him panicking and looking for a BB gun.
Gladstone then went to the home of one of the officers he was eating with, retrieved a BB gun and took it to where Jenkins had run over and killed Simon with his vehicle.
In his written police statement, Jenkins wrote he saw Simon with a weapon before he hit him, and then claimed to have discovered the BB gun under a nearby car after the incident.
A federal indictment stated Gladstone met with one of the other officers who was on the scene that night, expressing concern about exposure over planting the gun.
Paranoid he’d be recorded, Gladstone arranged for the other officer to meet him at the YMCA swimming pool to discuss the ordeal.
Gladstone told the officer he should say they were on the scene providing perimeter security that night, if they were ever asked.
Gladstone admitted he told a witness to lie to law enforcement, as part of his plea deal.
He faces up to a 10 year sentence.
Gladstone initially retired from the Baltimore Police Department in 2012, but returned in 2013 and stayed until late 2017 and then retired a second time shortly after the Gun Trace Task Force indictments were announced.
Gladstone is also listed as a defendant in a lawsuit for the family of 87-year-old man who was killed after GTTF members collided with a suspect at the end of a chase with Umar Burley.
During his own trial, Sergeant Jenkins admitted drugs were planted on Burley — the man police were chasing for drug possession.