A retired Baltimore police officer is opening up about the rampant abuse he alleged occurred throughout the force while he was employed.
Starting Wednesday morning, Sergeant Michael A. Wood, Jr., unleashed a series of tweets alleging systematic corruption on the police force. In an interview with TheBlaze, Wood said he was with the force for 11 years before a shoulder injury forced him to retire. He is also the author of a series of books on leadership in law enforcement.
In his tweets, Wood said officers have slapped women, kicked suspects in the face, destroyed homes during raids and illegally searching people. Wood also alleged that the BPD would purposefully target black males between the ages of 16 and 24. In his tweets he refers to probable cause (PC) and controlled deadly substance (CDS) (CONTENT WARNING FOR LANGUAGE):
So here we go. I'm going to start Tweeting the things I've seen & participated in, in policing that is corrupt, intentional or not.— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
A detective slapping a completely innocent female in the face for bumping into him, coming out of a corner chicken store.— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
Punting a handcuffed, face down, suspect in the face, after a foot chase. My handcuffs, not my boot or suspect— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr)June 24, 2015
CCTV cameras turning as soon as a suspect is close to caught.— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
Pissing and shitting inside suspects homes during raids, on their beds and clothes.— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
Swearing in court and PC docs that suspect dropped CDS during unbroken visual pursuit when neither was true.— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
Jacking up and illegally searching thousands of people with no legal justification— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
Having other people write PC statements, who were never there because they could twist it into legality.— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
Summonsing officers who weren't there so they could collect the overtime.— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
Targeting 16-24 year old black males essentially because we arrest them more, perpetrating the circle of arresting them more.— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
Every person in low income, especially minorities, knows all of this already. I'm not revealing anything at all, just confirming.— Michael A. Wood Jr. (@MichaelAWoodJr) June 24, 2015
Detective Jeremy Silbert, public information officer for BPD, confirmed to TheBlaze that Michael Wood "separated" from the police department in January 2014. He could not confirm if the Wood behind the Twitter account was the same Wood formally employed at the department. Silbert also would not comment on Wood's Twitter allegations.
Wood, 35, blamed a mentality of "us versus them" that he claimed was prevalent throughout the force even though he said many officers weren't that different from the suspects with who they interacted.
"I started to kind of be a little more empathetic and kind of soften up from the whole 'us versus them' thing and over time with an education and getting out and eventually kind of stepping back from the badge after I retired, I started to see things a little bit," Wood, who is now a Ph.D., candidate at Capella University studying management.
Wood told TheBlaze that he still has best friends who work for the BPD and that many cops have the same viewpoint as him. According to him, those higher up in the police force, "command," have had a contentious relationship with Wood ever since he wrote the leadership books which were apparently effective at helping officers get promoted that the "good ole boys" didn't necessarily handpick.
"I think eventually we're going to win. I think we're going to change policing dramatically," Wood said. "If I'm speaking too early, and it hurts me, and I have to do something else, then that's fine. It's not going to be very much longer before somebody similar is able to break through."
Wood said he hopes the police force will do things based on "empathy and science" instead of with authority. He suggested that because of the Baltimore summer heat, many people without air conditioning hang out on the streets. Instead of "aggressively clearing corners," he said, the police should "spend $100 and buy them air conditioners and then they wouldn't be on the streets."
Wood is the author of a crime novel, "Elliot," and served in the Marine Corps for four years. He said the mentality within the police department is "blind allegiance to the force" whereas the culture while he was in the Marine Corps was predicated on integrity.
Bryan Patterson, a use of force expert for the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, told TheBlaze that he had some doubts about Wood's allegations.
"Everything I've seen is that he's a coward," Patterson said. "He's saying officers did these things now that he's retired."
Patterson, who said it's been "open season" on police officers lately, said he strongly questioned Wood's tweets as officers are taught that if they seen any kind of corruption within their department and don't report it, they're just as guilty as the person committing the atrocity.
"He would be the biggest hypocrite of someone who wore a badge and carried a gun," Patterson said.
But Wood maintains that he's telling the truth and says he doesn't care if people don't believe him as long as policies and trainings are implemented to change this climate within the police department.
Wood's accusations come just one day the autopsy report of Freddie Gray, the black Baltimore man who died while in police custody, leaked.
In April, Wood weighed in on the Gray case to the Baltimore City Paper by email.
"I know you have heard stories in the past of things like brake checks, drop offs, bumpy roads, et cetera, so you know that has occurred,” he said. “Nothing can realistically change the possibility of someone exhibiting the callous behavior of using that vehicle as a weapon against the helpless or to stomp a boot into the neck of someone who flees.”
Wood told TheBlaze that people can expect more tweets about the corruption within the force in the upcoming days.
"I haven't even started," he said. "I'm surprised that anyone was that offended [by the current tweets]."