Prosecutor: Baltimore police officer sold pot on the clock

May 4, 2023, 11:43 AM | Updated: 3:15 pm

BALTIMORE (AP) — Two Baltimore police officers were indicted this week in separate cases, including an 11-year department veteran accused of selling drugs on the clock — allegations that come as the agency seeks to rebuild its reputation after the Gun Trace Task Force corruption scandal ruptured public trust.

Officer Cejus Watson was supposed to be working at police headquarters in downtown Baltimore on Sept. 29, but he left during his shift and drove to a Baltimore County tattoo parlor where he sold marijuana, according to a grand jury indictment.

Watson had been previously charged with marijuana distribution in Baltimore County, a separate legal jurisdiction, and was suspended without pay as a result; that case, which pertains to the same alleged drug deal, is ongoing with trial scheduled for June.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, who took office as the city’s top prosecutor in January, announced the indictments at a news conference Thursday morning, saying they demonstrate his commitment to holding law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct.

The second officer, Alexis Acosta, faces manslaughter and other charges after he struck and killed a scooter rider while responding to a June 911 call.

Bates said the indictments call into question the officers’ “integrity and ability to protect the citizens of Baltimore City.” He called Watson’s alleged actions “absolutely mind-boggling.”

“When I hear there’s evidence that an officer was allegedly selling drugs on the job, I can’t help but think of the notorious Gun Trace Task Force — the shame that was brought on our police department and our city as a whole,” he said.

That corruption scandal resulted in more than a dozen officers being convicted of criminal charges. It stemmed from the discovery that members of an elite plainclothes squad, created to get illegal guns off the streets, had robbed drug dealers, planted narcotics and firearms on innocent people, and assaulted random civilians.

The department also court-ordered reforms to root out unconstitutional policing practices.

While troubling, Bates said, the charges against Watson likely aren’t representative of more widespread corruption inside the department.

“The consent decree, I do believe is working,” he said.

Watson made $86,000 in 2021, according to public salary records. An attorney representing him didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Acosta was responding to a 911 call about a reported stabbing when he struck Terry Harrell, 58, who was riding an electric scooter. Video footage of the crash showed Acosta driving through a red light with his lights and sirens on. In addition to manslaughter, he’s accused of reckless and negligent driving.

Online court records didn’t indicate Thursday whether Acosta has an attorney representing him.

A spokesperson for the Baltimore Police Department said Acosta remains on administrative duty.

Bates has made declined to prosecute an officer who fatally shot a fleeing teenage driver last year. That decision, which has drawn criticism from activists, was at odds with an investigative report from state prosecutors who also reviewed the case.


This story has been corrected to state that Acosta was responding to a June 911 call, not a September call.

United States News

Associated Press

University of Maryland suspends fraternities and sororities pending investigation

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — The University of Maryland has ordered fraternities and sororities on campus to suspend social and recruitment activities after the school received multiple reports of unsafe activities. A letter sent Friday from university officials to fraternity and sorority presidents informing them of the suspension did not describe the alleged misconduct as […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Medical incident likely led to SUV crashing into Walmart store, authorities say

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A driver who crashed her sport-utility vehicle into a Walmart store in suburban Detroit was likely having a health incident at the time, authorities said Saturday. The woman and four other people who were taken to hospitals Friday did not have life-threatening injuries, the Canton Township Public Safety Department said. […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

A bridge where a dramatic open-air rescue occurred remains closed over the Ohio River

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A bridge connecting Kentucky and Indiana remained closed Saturday following a harrowing crash and rescue of a tractor-trailer driver left hanging over the bridge’s edge. Dramatic photos and video captured the rescue Friday of the driver in her cab over the side of the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge connecting Louisville, […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Body parts of 2 people found in Long Island park and police are trying to identify them

BABYLON, N.Y. (AP) — Police on New York’s Long Island were trying to identify human remains found in a popular suburban park that appear to be from a man and a woman. A girl walking to school Thursday morning found a severed arm on the side of the road at Southards Pond Park, about 25 […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Train derailment leaves cars on riverbank or in water; no injuries, hazardous materials reported

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — Authorities say a train derailment in eastern Pennsylvania has left some railroad cars along a riverbank Saturday morning and at least one partially in the river itself. Dispatchers in Northampton County said the derailment was reported at 7:14 a.m. in Lower Saucon Township. Authorities said it was unclear how many cars […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

An arrest has been made and charges filed in Pennsylvania slaying of pregnant Amish woman

SPARTANSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man was arrested Saturday and charged with the slaying of a pregnant Amish woman whose body was found last week. Shawn C. Cranston, 52, of Corry, has been charged with criminal homicide, criminal homicide of an unborn child, burglary and criminal trespass, Pennsylvania State Police said. He was denied […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Prosecutor: Baltimore police officer sold pot on the clock