After a Baltimore jury convicted him for shooting a man during a 1996 traffic stop, Sgt. Stephen R. Pagotto said he became a pariah in the community and with top police brass.
The Baltimore Police Department fired him, and he became a car salesman in Harford County, where he moved from his Northeast Baltimore home after vandals tagged his van with “killer cop.” When Maryland’s highest court reversed his conviction in 2000, he wanted to get back to policing but said command staff made it clear he’d never get ahead. He returned to work one day and retired the next.
Two decades later, Pagotto has been following the case of the six officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. Now that all charges have been dropped, those officers are on administrative duties and may return to patrol after internal reviews determine whether they broke department policies. […]
But some officers cleared of crimes in the past have confronted more obstacles: continuing protests, threats, stress-related health problems, political pressure to resign. In Baltimore, the case has drawn intense interest, and Gray’s death continues to elicit strong emotions on city streets, where rioting broke out last year on the day of his funeral.