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Baltimore man hopeful for overturned conviction surrounding Gun Trace Task Force scandal

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Posted at 4:58 PM, May 02, 2022

BALTIMORE — As people across the nation learn about the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force inside the Baltimore Police Department through the HBO show "We Own This City," a Baltimore man hopes the show leads to more than just an entertained audience.

Marquis Dukes spent five years in prison. He said he was falsely accused by officers on that task force, and now it’s time for the courts to overturn his conviction.

MORE: Massive new report details Baltimore Police Department's role in allowing Gun Trace Task Force scandal to happen

Baltimore man talks about being victimized by Gun Trace Task Force

On most days, Dukes is hard at work doing a job he's proud of because it wasn't the easiest journey to get to this point.

"Before I got this job I was turned down like nine times," Dukes said. "I would get the job and then the background check would come back. They can't get you because of the felony on your record."

Baltimore man talks about being victim of gun trace task force

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Last Monday after work, he joined the nation in watching the premier of "We Own This City."

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Years before the country would learn the names of the officers involved, their reputations dominated the neighborhood where he grew up, namely that of Detective Daniel Hersl.

MORE: Anne Arundel officer Chris Anderson to play role in HBO series on Baltimore City’s gun trace task force.

"It was just like a mythical type of figure growing up. Don't let Hersl see you. Don't let Hersl catch you. He'll beat you up, chase you and beat you up,” Dukes recalled in an interview.

Eventually in 2007, he and then Det. Hersl would meet face-to-face.

“At this time, I'm a teenager. I'm around like 16 years old,” Dukes shared.

Commissioner Harrison talks about HBO's 'We Own This City'

Dukes said the group of officers lined them up on the street and began searching them. That's when those rumors he'd heard before became his reality.

“He took one of my friends and he put the flexicuffs on him and he went in the back of his trunk, and you can see in his trunk he had drugs on him," Dukes said. "He took a gun out of his trunk and put it in my friend's hand and he took the gun and put it back in the trunk and then closed the trunk and said now I got you for a murder if I want to."

After that encounter, Dukes said Hersl would arrest him several more times, each scenario mirroring the other.

“They’d pull up in a neighborhood, conduct searches and would plant drugs on their victims,” he said.

Gun Trace Task Force members sentenced to length prison terms

The most recent arrest was in 2013.

“He finds some drugs inside of an apartment building probably about 100 feet away from me," Dukes said. "So he says you're going to jail for it. So, I'm like it's not mine. He's like give me a reason why I shouldn't lock you up and it's not because you're a good guy. I said you shouldn't lock me up because it's not mine."

Minutes later, Dukes says officers produced a handgun on that same scene.

“They come out and show me the handgun and say, 'Now, you sure you don't know anybody. I said I don't know anything. Locked me up, I get to central booking, I get a drug charge, I got a gun charge and eventually I got to court I got a court defender. I can't afford a lawyer,” Dukes said.

Dukes pleaded 'no contest' to avoid going to jail for decades and served five years as a result.

Though he maintains his innocence, that charge on his record is still just as costly.

“The sentence was five years. It was up in 2018. I can’t get that off of my record until 2028. I’m stuck with this. I can't put my name on a lease or nothing.

As the country watches those officer's plot unfold in the weeks to come, Dukes is filled with mixed emotions watching a crucial point in his life entertain others.

Still, Dukes said he hasn’t lost hope.

“I pray every night that someone will listen to me," Dukes said. "Hopefully with this exposure, maybe I can get the conviction overturned and I can have the fresh start doing somethings in my life that I haven't been able to do."

Dukes hope is that he and several people in his circle who were victimized by the Gun Trace Task Force get justice in a form of an overturned conviction that would require a move by the state's attorney's office.

In the meantime, he's glad the corruption detailed in the series is being brought to light.