Last Thursday, the Evans family was effusive.
Earlier that day, it was announced that seven Baltimore Police Officers were indicted on federal charges of racketeering. Among the seven was Det. Daniel Hersl, who over the past three years or so has "targeted" (a judge's words) rapper Young Moose, whose real name is Kevron Evans, locking him up on multiple occasions, harassing Moose and the Evans family, and they say, even stealing money.
"Today is a good day," Moose's father Kevin Evans, said over drinks at a Station North bar, accompanied by Moose's Aunt, who did not want to use her name, and Moose's manager, Teron Matthews. They all pointed out that it was exactly one year ago—March 1, 2016—that Hersl and other BPD officers last raided Moose's Out The Mud store on Monument Street and residences connected to Moose and the Evans family.
That day the police found a gun they said belonged to Moose; Evans claims it was planted. He also accuses Hersl and others of stealing money from a safe at the Out The Mud Store and wrecking parts of the store and an upstairs recording studio. He offered video and photos of some of the damage.
The many arrests stalled Moose's career, kept him in jail, and got the attention of the feds. Matthews claims that all the time Moose has spent in jail has cost him potentially "millions" of dollars, cutting the rapper's massive buzz short just as his song 'Dumb Dumb' spread and Baton Rouge rapper Lil Boosie began working with him.
Moose frequently referenced Hersl in his song lyrics.
"Detective Hersl, he a bitch, I swear to God he ain't right/ Heard about my rap career, he trying to fuck up my life/ That nigga fuck me over once, he ain't getting another," Moose raps on the song 'Tired,' off 2014's "OTM 3" mixtape. "That racist bitch had the nerve to put the cuffs on my mother/ Put the cuffs on my father, then put the cuffs on my brother/ He think about me every day, that nigga mind in the gutter/ Looking for some information bitch that ain't how I rock/ Throwing dirt on my name because I'm going to the top/ The warrant wasn't even right when they ran in my spot."
As is often the case with Moose's lyrics, these words meant even more to his community than they did to an outsider —they aired grievances against this officer that had been building for years in East Baltimore.
At a Baltimore march protesting the police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in St. Paul, last July, a general chorus of "fuck the police" grew more specific: "Fuck Hersl!" a few marchers yelled instead of "Fuck the police."
"Fuck Hersl, man, he a snake," another added.
It's hard to verify the extent of Hersl's misconduct because internal affairs complaints are closely guarded. But in a different case, when a judge ruled that the defense could inform the jury of internal affairs complaints filed against Hersl and another officer involved in a 2006 drug case, the prosecutor dropped the charges. With seven years on the force by then, Hersl had 29 internal affairs complaints filed against him, according to a Baltimore Sun article from the time. One of these complaints against Hersl (which was not sustained) claims that while off-duty, he got into an argument with a woman at a bar and poured beer on her head and threw a bottle that hit her in the face.
Mark Puente's 2014 Baltimore Sun story, "Some Baltimore police officers face repeated misconduct lawsuits," highlight cases where Hersl was accused of breaking a woman's arm and a man's jaw, and the battery and false imprisonment of another woman. The cases were settled and no wrongdoing was acknowledged. In the end, the city paid out nearly $200,000 to settle allegations against Hersl.
During the Baltimore Uprising, Hersl was on the street during some of the most intense moments at Penn North — a decision by the BPD that seems shockingly ignorant of the fact that, after Freddie Gray died in police custody, so many people were on the streets and angry because they too claim to have suffered the kind of injustice Hersl had a reputation for dispensing.
On May 2, 2015, Hersl was enforcing the 10 p.m. curfew at Penn North. Video shot by Ford Fischer of website News2Share, shows Hersl chasing after a couple who were slow to disperse, shoving one of them very hard for not walking fast enough, and arguing with them. Once the couple shuffles along, Hersl spots someone and calls out "blue shirt," encouraging a National Guard truck to follow him as he chases the man down. Fischer recorded the entire pursuit.
As Fischer recorded the arrest of "blue shirt," he was arrested, too.
"The National Guardsmen placed themselves in front of me and directed me to 'move back,'" Fischer told City Paper. One of the National Guardsmen noted that Fischer was credentialed media—and therefore allowed to be out after the curfew.
"[Then] Hersl came up behind me at that point, threw me face first on the pavement, and said on camera 'I don't care.'"
On May 4, 2015, Hersl was at Penn North in the afternoon after a gun was fired. An archived livestream of the event shows Hersl arguing with residents and indiscriminately spraying the crowd with pepper spray.
In April of 2016, a police brutality lawsuit was filed against the BPD, the State of Maryland and specifically named officers, including Hersl. Among the six plaintiffs on the lawsuit are Fischer and Larry Lomax, who rather famously was doused with pepper spray at nearly point blank range and pulled to the ground by his dreadlocks on May 2.
"Mr. Fischer's lawsuit against Officer Hersl is in progress," Fischer's attorney Jason Downs told City Paper. "Officer Hersl previously asked the court to dismiss Mr. Fischer's lawsuit. Officer Hersl's request was denied."
At the press conference announcing the arrests last week, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called Hersl and the other officers "1930s-style gangsters," and said he spoke with cops who "were relieved to know that these officers no longer walk among them."
"I'm surprised he made it this long," one former officer who knows Hersl told City Paper.
Before the indictments, Moose's father, Kevin Evans said there were times when he wouldn't leave the house if he saw Hersl.
"If [Hersl] is on the street. I don't drive. He's going to plant something on me," Evans said.
The Evans family say they have become very familiar with Internal Affairs, calling whenever they are pulled over; they document everything. They've even talked to other police and tried to level with them about Hersl's behavior, but Evans said the cops told him, it was "out of their hands."
"I'm so relieved Hersl has been criminally charged," said Richard C.B. Woods, who has represented Moose in his legal cases many of which involve Hersl. "This guy's history has been so well documented and publicized, the fact that he was still on the force is an indictment of the whole idea of police policing police."
Hersl and the six other indicted officers (Det. Evodio Hendrix, Det. Jemell Rayam, Det. Marcus Taylor, Det. Maurice Ward, Det. Momodu Gondo, and Sgt. Wayne Earl Jenkins) plead not guilty to the racketeering charges.
A letter released by members of Hersl's family, including his son and his mother, defended the veteran BPD cop.
"Daniel is considerate and most respectful to the people in his life including the citizens he encounters as a policeman," the letter reads. Later on, it points out that Hersl has "gotten more illegal guns off the street than any other police officer in the department," and adds that Hersl "is a good cop and would never do anything wrong to disgrace [Baltimore] or the badge."
Additional reporting by Edward Ericson Jr. and Baynard Woods