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‘We Own This City’ True Story

After months of inane true-crime tv within the type of hucksters and dating-app swindlers, HBO redeems the style, returning to its early 2000s crime drama roots with We Own This City. The collection, from The Wire creator David Simon and author/producer (and, additionally, Wire alumnus) George Pelecanos, follows the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force, members of whom had been indicted on federal racketeering prices in 2017, together with former chief of the duty drive, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins (Jon Bernthal within the collection).

The collection is predicated on the guide “We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops, and Corruption,” by former Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, which chronicles the duty drive’s corrupt actions and supreme crackdown by the FBI. (The identical activity drive was the topic of one other current guide, “I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad.”) The New York Times famous that the guide was “clearly inspired by ‘The Wire’,” a incontrovertible fact that comes full circle with Wire writers Simon and Pelecanos now turning the story right into a tv collection.

Like The Wire, which is predicated on occasions and personalities concerned within the Baltimore legal and legislation enforcement areas of the Nineties, We Own This City can be a Baltimore crime story that doubles as an American crime story—this one set between 2015 and 2017.

It’s connection each to Fenton’s guide and to its tv predecessor implies that viewers can anticipate hyperrealism within the story’s depictions of historic occasions and proceedings.

Simon was a criminal offense reporter himself at The Baltimore Sun for over a decade, work expertise that has little question given his tv writing sturdy verisimilitude.

Here’s the true story behind his newest, We Own This City.

The Murder of Freddie Gray

baltimore, md   june 23 trash collects below a mural of freddie gray after baltimore police officer caesar goodson jr was found not guilty on all charges on june 23, 2016 in baltimore, maryland officer goodson, the van driver in the freddie gray case, is facing multiple charges including second degree murder this is the third trial related to the death of freddie gray, who died while in police custody photo by mark makelagetty images

Mark MakelaGetty Images

Although it’s by no means proven on display screen, the loss of life of Freddie Gray—a 25-year-old Baltimore resident who died at the back of a police van in 2015, a loss of life later dominated a murder—haunts the occasions of We Own This City.

The collection pendulums the narrative between 2015 and 2017, two calamitous years for the Baltimore Police Department.

The occasions of 2015 within the collection happen after the loss of life of Gray—the following protests, the resultant legal investigations into the six officers concerned, and the rise in crime in Baltimore following the killing.

The local weather within the police division gave the impression to be one in all excessive frustration. The Baltimore police union denied that its officers had been accountable for Gray’s loss of life—a perception that was possible held by different officers on the time and is mirrored within the collection’ dialogue.

It additionally seemed to be a local weather of utmost reservation, leading to fewer studies, fewer automotive stops, and officers allegedly turning a blind eye to legal habits. These occasions are all depicted in We Own This City’s first episode the place two cops out of the blue select to not arrest a person that they had handcuffed.

As within the collection, crime then started to rise in Baltimore and would in the end hit an all-time excessive in 2017, the opposite timeline in We Own This City.

In April 2017, the Justice Department introduced that there would no prices in opposition to the six officers concerned in Gray’s loss of life.

A month, earlier, nevertheless the police division was rocked by a federal investigation that will finish in court docket—and self-discipline for a number of Baltimore Police officers.

Wayne Jenkins, Daniel Hersl, and the Gun Trace Task Force

we own this city true story

Daniel Hersl (left) and Wayne Jenkins (proper)

Baltimore Police Department

On March 1, 2017, a number of members of Baltimore Police’s Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) had been arrested on racketeering prices. An indictment in opposition to them described “robberies committed during street stops, traffic stops, and residential searches; false affidavits and police reports submitted to facilitate their crimes; and massive overtime fraud accomplished through lying about the hours worked by the BPD members”—all of which occurred between 2015-2016, the years after Gray’s loss of life.

We Own This City‘s first episode concludes with the arrest of Sgt. Wayne Jenkins who led the duty drive on the time. The different officers arrested included Momodu Gondo, Evodio Hendrix, Jemell Rayam, Marcus Taylor, Maurice Ward, and Daniel Hersl (Josh Charles within the collection).

An government abstract of the investigation into the GTTF explains the importance of the indictment.

“The indictment charged that the officers had transformed the GTTF—and BPD as a whole—into a racketeering enterprise, a charging framework usually reserved for cases against members of organized crime, not police officers. … The arrests and the indictment of these officers stunned BPD and the entire city of Baltimore. Immediately referred to as “the GTTF scandal,” it was characterized as the most extensive and damaging corruption scandal in the history of BPD. It was particularly damaging because it came to light at a time when the relationship between BPD and the residents of Baltimore—particularly communities of color—was especially fragile and strained. Several dimensions of the corruption scandal made it one without precedent in BPD’s history: the depravity of the behavior, the range of crimes committed, the number of officers involved, and the duration of the corruption. And it turned out that the initial arrests and charges were just the beginning.”

Interviews carried out following the arrest revealed a good wider community of corruption, which started properly earlier than 2015.

It was by 2015, nevertheless that Sgt. Wayne Jenkins had grow to be one thing of a division favourite. Following a surge in violent crime, the division seems to have positioned extra significance on gun seizures, a metric for which Jenkins’ activity drive was in a position to present enchancment. Jenkins turned the duty drive chief in June 2016.

Hersl, too, as depicted in We Own This City, seems to have been tolerated merely due to his arrest numbers—regardless of the myriad of complaints in opposition to him, together with use of drive complaints. Hersl joined the GTTF in 2015 and took part within the activity drive’s crimes, together with stealing 1000’s of {dollars} from a Maryland house.

Jenkins ran the GTFF for 5 months. During that point, Jenkins and several other others stole 1000’s of {dollars}—some from properties throughout search warrant executions, some from people whom they arrested. The activity drive additionally planted proof within the type of weapons and stole 400 grams of cocaine, which they then bought themselves.

Where are Wayne Jenkins and Daniel Hersl now?

After an FBI investigation into the unit found the GTTF’s crimes, federal officers arrested Jenkins alongside a number of others within the unit.

In June 2018, after pleading responsible on prices of racketeering, theft and falsifying information, Jenkins was sentenced to 25 years in federal jail.

Hersl was sentenced to 18 years.

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