The Wire creator to examine police corruption with new miniseries

Monday, March 8

By Ciarán Mather

David Simon, creator of the acclaimed HBO TV series The Wire, is set to work on a new miniseries surrounding corruption in the police department in Baltimore, America.

The news has shut down the rumours from last year that he was creating a sequel series to the hit crime TV show, which ran from 2002 to 2008.

Simon, who himself is also a former crime reporter, will be joined by George Pelecanos, who collaborated with him in writing The Wire.

According to Variety, the miniseries will be an adaptation of the book 'We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops, and Corruption,' which was written by investigative journalist Justin Fenton.

The series will notably examine two incidents that brought controversy to the Baltimore police department in the US state of Maryland.

Firstly, it will examine the 2015 death of African-American man Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr., who died while in police custody and is suspected to have been murdered by corrupt officers within the force.

Gray was 25-years-old when he died, with the cause of death being linked to a 'severe neck injury.'

We Own This City will also examine the arrests of members of the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF), a unit within the department that was discovered to be taking part in shakedowns of civilians, as well as drug dealers, in order to steal their supplies and sell them on the streets.

Seven of the members admitted their guilt and two officers, Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor — fought the charges in court but were later given 18-year prison sentences.

The Baltimore police department has had a long history of corruption, stemming back to the 1950s, when its police commissioner James M. Hepbron, who faced multiple allegations of enabling and turning a blind eye to police misconduct, such as planting evidence, unprompted shootings and illegal raids.

Whilst being investigated, one politician, Democrat Jerome Robinson, called Hepbron 'an SS [Schutzstaffel, a branch of the Nazi Party in World War II] officer in a Chesterfield coat who is impatient with the Bill of Rights and intolerant of the constitutional liberties and prerogatives of the people.'

History seemed to repeat itself in 2018, when the newly appointed Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa was charged in U.S. District Court with three misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal taxes for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

This led to De Souza eventually resigning from his post.

In 2005, officers William A. King and Antonio L. Murray were arrested by the FBI for federal drug conspiracy charges and were later found guilty in 2008.

One instance of witness coaching was alleged by Attorney Susan Simpson (with the help of the podcast Undisclosed) in the case of witness Jay Wilds, who was being questioned for the murder of a young woman named Hae Min Lee.

Wilds later claimed that this was indeed the case.

In 2019, Baltimore State's Marilyn Mosby announced that she had a compiled list of 'hundreds of officers' who had allegations of misconduct levelled against them.

Baltimore has repeatedly been ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the US, with crime statistics that are reportedly well-above the national average.

The Wire is often considered to be one of the best TV shows of all time, with particular praise directed at its accuracy of urban crime, politics and the police department within Baltimore.

The series was a launchpad for the careers of many well-known actors, including Wendell Pierce, Michael B. Jordan, Dominic West and Idris Elba.

Simon also worked on the acclaimed 2010 HBO miniseries The Pacific, which was a companion piece to another well-received HBO World War II miniseries, Band of Brothers.