City settles, calls supervisor a 'law-abiding officer'
Two and a half years after allegations surfaced that an elite Baltimore police unit had become a rogue operation, the city did an about-face, agreeing yesterday to pay the squad's supervisor a six-figure settlement and issuing a rare public apology, calling him "a law-abiding" and "dedicated" police officer.
The move was an extraordinary development in a probe into the Southwest District's "flex squad" that began when a woman accused an officer of raping her in a police district station in late 2005. The police commissioner disbanded the squad, launched annual audits of flex squads citywide and suspended six officers, including three who were indicted on criminal charges.
Ultimately, one officer was acquitted of rape, criminal charges against others were dropped and the city is now paying $290,000 to Sgt. Robert L. Smith, former Officer Vicki Mengel and their attorney to settle a $1.5 million civil suit the accused officers had filed against the police department.