The Curious Defense of Detective Marcus Taylor

Race and Politics

by: Sean Yoes Senior AFRO Contributor
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If you let Det. Marcus Taylor tell it (through his attorneys that is) just about every member of the Baltimore City Police Department is dirty.

He would have you believe broad swaths of rank and file officers are running roughshod over mostly Black, mostly poor residents of Baltimore, a la Det. Alonzo Harris in the movie, “Training Day.”

Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)

According to Taylor, who is currently locked up along with six fellow officers indicted on federal charges of racketeering, almost every man and woman, sworn to protect and serve is shaking down drug dealers, and legitimate businessmen (e.g., wholesale car dealers), alike, perhaps planting evidence, filing false reports and jacking taxpayers for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent overtime payments. And that’s why, if you believe Taylor, he should be released until the trial for the seven members of the Gun Trace Task Force, because the BCPD is so rife with corruption, “these systemic problems are not a reason to detain Mr. Taylor,” wrote his attorneys in a legal motion challenging his detention.

“The audacity of that argument, that this man…he didn’t say he’s a good member of the community…he has a family, he volunteers at the rotary club and he runs a rec center,” said my friend and colleague Stephen Janis, an award-winning investigative journalist at The Real News Network and member of, “The Mod Squad,” during a conversation on First Edition on May 10. “He (Taylor) said he’s just another one of many…corrupt cops, who do this every day. And so putting him out there is not going to make one bit of difference in the city of Baltimore. That is an astounding argument, if I’m reading it correctly…they reference the Department of Justice findings, as if it is bolstering their argument that this man does not deserve to be incarcerated,” Janis added.

But, not only have Taylor and his attorneys smeared the vast majority of the BCPD in their motion for his release, they also argue Taylor’s, “brothers” on the Gun Trace Task Force have been, “involved in threats of death, drug dealing, and obstruction even from their jail cell,” wrote Taylor’s attorneys, who maintain their client is innocent of those accusations.

Taylor, 30, the youngest of the seven accused of racketeering, was hired by the department in 2009. If his allegations against his cohort specifically, and the BCPD more broadly are accurate, then the DOJ report against the department reads less like a sweeping and searing indictment of Baltimore policing and more like a mild rebuke. After all, he’s accusing the men he is locked up with, all still currently officers with the BCPD, of engaging in conduct while behind bars similar to the infamous actions of Tavon “Bulldog” White, a former leader of the BGF (Black Guerilla Family), who along with his lieutenants ran the now shuttered Baltimore City Detention Center from the inside.

Further, what happens if Taylor is called to testify in his defense when the racketeering trial gets underway? Would he provide empirical evidence to bolster his claims that seem implausible to some. If so, then the BCPD as we know it could be turned upside down and shaken to its foundation.

It seems clear, either the Baltimore City Police Department is maybe the most nefarious police department since the Frank Serpico NYPD of the 1960’s and 1970’s, or Marcus Taylor is simply a loathsome rat looking to somehow save his own hide. Or perhaps, the answer is infinitely more nuanced and maddening.

Sean Yoes is a senior contributor for the AFRO and host and executive producer of AFRO First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on WEAA, 88.9.

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