Corrupt ex-Baltimore police officer asks for compassionate prison release, citing cancer diagnosis

From the Associated Press

BALTIMORE (AP) — A former Baltimore police officer convicted in 2018 as part of the department’s Gun Trace Task Force corruption scandal is asking a federal judge for compassionate release from prison, saying he’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Daniel Hersl, the oldest member of the deeply corrupt and now-disbanded Baltimore police unit, was sentenced to 18 years behind bars after a jury found him guilty of racketeering and robbery.

In a court filing Tuesday, the 53-year-old ex-detective said he was recently diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer that has spread to his lymph nodes, liver, lungs and more. He said a prison doctor concluded he has less than 18 months to live and asked for home detention.

A ruling has not yet been issued on his request.

Hersl was one of eight indicted members of the once-lauded Gun Trace Task Force, which was created to get illegal guns off the streets of a city plagued by violent crime. But instead, members robbed drug dealers, planted narcotics and firearms on innocent people and assaulted random civilians. More than a dozen officers have been convicted in the scandal since 2017. Hundreds of cases that hinged on their testimony were later dropped.

Prosecutors said Hersl “devalued” people he dealt with as an officer and “abused his power to prey on them.” They said he also ripped off taxpayers by committing rampant overtime fraud, including an entire month that he spent refurbishing his house while on the clock.

City leaders have since undertaken significant efforts to reform the Baltimore Police Department, which remains under a federal consent decree because Justice Department investigators found a pattern of unconstitutional and discriminatory policing practices, especially against Black residents.