Baltimore police commissioner resigns amid tax charges, wider probe

Baltimore police commissioner resigns amid tax charges, wider probe

Darryl De Sousa, 54, served as Baltimore's police commissioner for just four months last year before resigning after he was hit with tax charges.(Photo by Mike Jordan)

BALTIMORE — Baltimore’s latest police commissioner resigned on Tuesday, a week after he was charged with failing to file taxes for three years and the same day it was publicly revealed that a federal probe of him extended far beyond his tax issues.

Hours after Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Darryl De Sousa’s resignation, media reports disclosed that federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas seeking information about his taxes, pay, second job, travel and education.

Pugh released a statement Tuesday that read in part:

“Today, I received the resignation of Darryl De Sousa as Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department and have accepted it. I have initiated a national search to identify the new Commissioner. In the meantime, Gary Tuggle will serve as Interim-Commissioner.”

Tuggle had been the deputy commissioner until De Sousa’s suspension on Friday,

De Sousa’s resignation  just 11 weeks after he was sworn in comes at a tumultuous time for the city, which is grappling with a surge in violence and is operating under a federal consent decree mandating reforms in the police department. He was Baltimore’s third police commissioner in three years and the ninth since 2000.

The mayor, as well as many City Council members and community activists, had expressed hope that De Sousa, a 30-year veteran of the city’s police force and a graduate of Morgan State University, could bring order to a department that in many ways has spiraled out of control in recent years.

On Wednesday, Pugh defended her selection of De Sousa, whose appointment the City Council approved in a 14-1 vote.

“I own the appointment of Darryl De Sousa as commissioner for Baltimore City,” she told reporters at her weekly news conference at City Hall.

She had expressed her confidence in him last Thursday following the revelation of his tax charges.

“I absolutely had faith in his ability to run the police department,” she said Wednesday.

Pugh fired former commissioner Kevin Davis Jan. 19 because she said he was not doing enough to control the city’s soaring homicide rate. At the time, she named De Sousa, then the deputy commissioner, as the acting commissioner. He was sworn into the top job on April 28.

Last year, a record 343 people were killed in Baltimore, which has a population of nearly 622,000. In comparison, there were 211 slayings in the city in 2014. Many people have blamed the police for the surge in violence, saying that some officers have taken a hands-off approach to crime in retaliation for Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charging six officers in the death of Freddie Gray in 2015. Gray, 25, was fatally injured in the back of a police van.

Gray’s death set off riots in the city that made international news. The uprisings led the governor to declare a state of emergency and summon the National Guard as well as institute a nighttime curfew. Three of the police officers were acquitted and Mosby dropped the charges against the remaining three.

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