EXCLUSIVE: Specialized police units are coming under increased scrutiny after the death in Memphis of Tyre Nichols, who was allegedly beaten to death by five officers of that city’s SCORPION street crime outfit.
Baltimore and its scandal-plagued Gun Trace Task Force comes into focus in the documentary I Got A Monster, the feature directorial debut of Kevin Abrams. Greenwich Entertainment has just secured North American distribution rights for the film, with plans to release it in theaters and on home video on March 10. The documentary from Alpine Labs is based on the acclaimed book I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad written by Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg.
Abrams’ film “retells in highly dramatic fashion one of the nation’s biggest police corruption scandals,” Greenwich Entertainment said in a release. “In 2017, Baltimore was rocked by the federal indictment of Wayne Jenkins, a highly decorated super-cop and leader of the Baltimore Police Department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force along with six other members on racketeering charges. In a city plagued by racial tension and violence, these plain-clothes detectives had been celebrated for holding the Thin Blue Line, but in fact were terrorizing Baltimore’s Black community.”
The release adds, “These dirty cops were stealing and reselling millions of dollars of drugs while brazenly planting evidence and falsifying police reports. However, they didn’t plan for a campaigning defense attorney or a secret FBI wiretap operation to end their crime spree and expose decades of criminality inside the police department.”
In a statement, the director noted the timeliness of his film. “As frustrating as it is that our film seems more relevant than ever, we look forward to getting the stories of those abused and silenced by the Gun Trace Task Force into the public and hope this film can contribute to finding a solution to the policing issues we currently face as a country,” Abrams said. Regarding the collaboration with Greenwich, he said, “It’s an honor to release our film with such storied and well-regarded creative and distribution partners.”
I Got A Monster is produced by Abrams, Jamie Denenberg, and Auriell P. Spiegel. Executive producers are Brent Miller, Lyn Davis Lear and Norman Lear. Greenwich’s co-president Edward Arentz negotiated the acquisition with Submarine’s Ben Schwartz on behalf of the filmmakers.
Greenwich Entertainment, founded in 2017, is an independent film distribution company “specializing in compelling documentaries and distinctive narrative features,” the company notes. Releases include the Academy Award-winning Free Solo directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin; Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice from Oscar winner Rob Epstein and Oscar nominee Jeffrey Friedman; Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin starring Oscar winner Jean Dujardin, and Isabel Coixtet’s The Bookshop starring Emily Mortimer and Academy Award nominees Patricia Clarkson and Bill Nighy.
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