Baltimore prison guards arrested for looting during Freddie Gray riots

Reuters/Jim Bourg
Maryland has suspended two Baltimore-based corrections officers after they were charged with burglary and theft. The two women were caught on video participating in the looting of a convenience store during the riots after Freddie Gray’s death.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services suspended Tamika Cobb, 29, and Kendra Richard, 28, without pay after they were both charged with second-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary and theft of less than $1,000 value, the agency announced Wednesday.

A video recorded on April 25 showed two women leaving a West Baltimore 7-Eleven with merchandise during the looting and riots that occurred that evening. They were later identified as Cobb and Richard.

DPSCS intelligence officers and detectives from the Intelligence and Investigative Division reviewed the footage after receiving a tip to do so, the agency said. It showed Cobb ‒ wearing yellow shoes, blue pants and a black sweatshirt with a large white graphic on the front ‒ leaving with Tostitos corn chips and other items. Richard ‒ in yellow tennis shoes, black Adidas jogging pants and a jean jacket ‒ was carrying Slim Jims and other merchandise, police said.

“Our Intelligence and Investigative Division did an outstanding job, immediately following-up on this tip,” DPSCS Secretary Stephen T. Moyer said in a statement. “We will not allow the vast majority of our employees who are honest and hardworking to be tainted by the actions of a few.”

Both officers were processed at Central Booking, with bail set at $35,000, the Baltimore Sun reported.

They had been placed on administrative leave with pay before they were charged, but DPSCS suspended them without pay after because one of the charges is a felony, the agency said.

Maryland’s DPSCS came under fire in April 2013, when 13 female prison guards were indicted on charges that they assisted a powerful prison gang with a money-laundering and drug-trafficking scheme.

The guards were accused of smuggling cell phones, prescription pills and other contraband into Baltimore City Detention Center ‒ the same location where Cobb and Richard were assigned ‒ at the behest of Tavon White, the alleged leader of the Black Guerilla Family gang, or BGF. White had sexual relations with at least four of the guards and had fathered five children with them since he was incarcerated in 2009 after an attempted murder conviction, prosecutors said at the time.