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In the Line of Fire

Murdered activist was killed for being police informant, court documents say

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Court documents contend Angelo Dangerfield was murdered because he was giving information to police.

By Van Smith | Posted 7/8/2010

Editor's Note: This story has been updated.

By all accounts—and there have been many of them, written and broadcast, since he was fatally shot last Nov. 25—21-year-old Angelo Dangerfield was a young man with a bright future, working hard at his job with a city housing agency and volunteering for do-good efforts in his Cherry Hill community. His violent death, which occurred as he was walking his dog early in the morning, did not fit the all-too-typical pattern of Baltimore murders, in which victims and killers often walk the same, dark path in life.

The day after Dangerfield’s killing, The Baltimore Sun reported that police knew of no motive and had no witnesses, and that Baltimore Police Department (BPD) spokesman Donny Moses called Dangerfield “a good, hard-working kid who went to work, went to church.” A surveillance camera recorded Dangerfield walking his dog, then falling to the ground, according to police documents, but did not capture images of whoever committed the crime.

A week later, Dangerfield’s mother, Doris Dangerfield, tried to make sense of her son’s death during a Dec. 4, 2009, interview on WYPR-FM. “He would come home from work and say some people would call him a snitch. He wasn’t a snitch,” she said, adding that “I don’t know why somebody would do that to him.”

But on the same day that Doris Dangerfield’s interview was broadcast on the radio, something happened that, many months later, would reveal that the BPD believes her son was killed for being an informant.

On Dec. 4, 2009, according to federal court documents, BPD officers raided a Cherry Hill apartment tied to Ronald Edward Hall, a suspect in Dangerfield’s murder. During the raid, they seized $7,693 believed to be drug-dealing proceeds. A little more than six months later, on June 18 in U.S. District Court in Maryland, a forfeiture complaint was filed to allow the government to keep the seized cash.

The forfeiture complaint (see below) reveals that Dangerfield was a “confidential source” for the BPD who had been providing detectives “with information regarding Hall and his involvement with trafficking and selling heroin.” The complaint also states that BPD “detectives believe that the murder of [Dangerfield] was retaliation for [Dangerfield] supplying information to the Baltimore City Police.”

City Paper’s requests for BPD comment about the forfeiture complaint’s disclosure that Dangerfield was a confidential source, and that detectives believe his murder was in retaliation for his cooperation, have not been answered. Attempts to contact Doris Dangerfield were unsuccessful; the voice-mailbox on her phone was full.

For some reason, though, police and prosecutors appear to have kept the retaliation theory of Dangerfield’s killing under wraps. It was not revealed in April when two men—Hall and Michael Robertson—were charged in the murder. Instead, BPD homicide detective Raymond Yost wrote in his statement of probable cause (see second document below) for their arrest that Dangerfield was killed because Robertson was afraid of Dangerfield’s dog.

An eyewitness to the crime “observed Michael Robertson yelling at the victim to keep his dog away from him,” according to Yost’s statement. “The victim then stated that his dog does not bite. The witness then heard two shots and observed the victim fall to the ground.” After Dangerfield fell, the eyewitness saw Robertson “place a handgun in his waist and both Robertson and Hall fled the scene” in Hall’s gold-colored Lincoln.

About five weeks after their arrests, prosecutors dropped all charges against Hall and Robertson. “This is a single-eyewitness case,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Margaret Burns explains in an e-mail, “and post-arrest investigation has been unable to develop sufficient corroboration to enable us to proceed at this time.” She adds that “any further discussion of this case would compromise the continuing investigation.”

The defense attorneys for Hall and Robertson both say that, during the murder case against their clients, the notion that Dangerfield was believed to have been killed for cooperating with police was not mentioned.

“I never heard that the victim was a confidential source until I received the forfeiture complaint” in late June, says Hall’s attorney, David Weinstein, who adds that prosecutors “never insinuated it, never suggested it, never went near that topic.” Robertson’s attorney, Donald Daneman, says, “There is nothing in my file on this case indicating any retaliation because someone was an informant. It has never been told to me” until City Paper contacted him for this article.

Another informant killing—this one about two months earlier, in nearby Westport—came to light via a federal obstruction-of-justice indictment in early June. In that case, victim Kareem Kelly Guest was shot to death shortly after copies of FBI documents detailing Guest’s cooperation started appearing on Westport’s streets (“Snitched Out,” Mobtown Beat, June 9).

In Dangerfield’s case, though, it remains unclear why police think Dangerfield’s role as a law-enforcement cooperator became known to his killer or killers. What is clear, thanks to the federal forfeiture filing, is that police say he was an informant, and that they believe he was killed for that reason.

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