Body cam­era footage re­leased

Po­lice shown cau­tion­ing, shoot­ing man with knives

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Justin Ge­orge

The man, dressed all in black, shuf­fles from side to side on a side­walk in North Bal­ti­more. He wields a knife in each of his out­stretched hands, and yells in­co­her­ently.

Two po­lice of­fi­cers have ar­rived in pa­trol cars and turned on their body cam­eras. As they close in, the de­vices record the num­ber of times the of­fi­cers tell the sus­pect to drop his knives. And they cap­ture the mo­ment of­fi­cers shoot him.

Po­lice say the se­quence, recorded last week in Waverly, is the first body-cam­era footage in Bal­ti­more to cap­ture a po­lice shoot­ing.

Department of­fi­cials re­leased it Wed­nes­day — a move they said was aimed at pro­vid­ing greater trans­parency amid ten­sions over the in­juries and deaths of sev­eral black men, in Bal­ti­more and na­tion­wide, at the hands of po­lice.

The 48-year-old man in the footage, who was shot mul­ti­ple times dur­ing the con­fronta­tion, re­mains at an area hos­pi­tal. Po­lice say he is able to talk. They have not re­leased his name or de­cided whether to charge him with a crime. They say his men­tal health needs to be eval­u­ated.

The footage is open to mul­ti­ple in­ter­pre­ta­tions. But it shows, dra­mat­i­cally, an of­fi­cer’s per­spec­tive of a volatile con­fronta­tion as it un­folds.

“It’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity, we be­lieve very strongly, to iden­tify crit­i­cal in­ci­dents like Th­ese are frames from a Bal­ti­more po­lice body cam­era that recorded the po­li­cein­volved shoot­ing last week in the 3300 block of Green­mount Ave. The man, shown at left, waves knives in each hand as of­fi­cers ap­proach. Be­low, he lies at left on the ground after of­fi­cers fire. The man sur­vived the shoot­ing and re­mains in the hos­pi­tal. Po­lice blurred his face in the top im­age; he has not been charged. See po­lice video at bal­ti­more­sun.com

this, es­pe­cially when deadly force was used, and share it with the com­mu­nity,” Bal­ti­more Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis said. “We be­lieve it’s mak­ing us bet­ter as an agency. We be­lieve it’s im­prov­ing po­lice com­mu­nity re­la­tion­ships and ac­count­abil­ity.

woman called 911 from her car Fri­day morn­ing to re­port a man in the 3300 block of Green­mount Ave. wav­ing knives, yelling at peo­ple and beat­ing on a pole and the side­walk.

Of­fi­cers ar­rived to find the man, dressed in black from his ban­danna to his leather jacket, pants and Adi­das shoes, pac­ing and rant­ing out­side a fried chicken car­ry­out and the Boulevard The­ater. He car­ried two green knives that had “MARINE” painted on the blades.

Five of­fi­cers ar­rived. Two were equipped with body cam­eras.

The footage cap­tures the scene from the level of the of­fi­cers’ chests. Their hands and weapons rise into view. Po­lice can be heard telling the man, “Sir, put your knives down” and “Drop the knives, sir.”

Po­lice spokesman T.J. Smith said the man was told 10 times to com­ply.

The man can be heard say­ing “I have one life to live, and I’m ready to give it.”

He moves side­ways, back and forth, al­ways fac­ing the of­fi­cers, with his armed hands out­stretched at his sides.

As po­lice move in, one of the of­fi­cers with a body cam­era raises his Taser, warns the sus­pect he is about to fire, and then does.

About the same time, two gun­shots ring out from at least one other of­fi­cer. The shots miss the man.

It is not clear whether the Taser strikes the man, but the blasts do noth­ing to stop the man. He con­tin­ues to shuf­fle or dance back and forth be­tween the for­mer the­ater and a shut­tered Lib­erty Tax of­fice.

Of­fi­cers again tell him to drop his knives. A few sec­onds later, they fire about five gun­shots and the man falls to the side­walk.

Blood be­gins to spread around his body. Of­fi­cers cuff his hands and be­gan ad­min­is­ter­ing re­sus­ci­ta­tion.

“Keep breath­ing, buddy,” an of­fi­cer says re­peat­edly. An of­fi­cer pushes down on his chest and asks re­peat­edly for a mask to blow into the man’s air pas­sages.

“He’s still breath­ing, he’s still breath­ing, he’s not dead,” an of­fi­cer says.

Po­lice have iden­ti­fied the of­fi­cers who shot the sus­pect as Gary Brown, who has been with the department for 16 years, and Supreme Jones, who has been with the department for two. Both are as­signed to the North­ern Dis­trict po­lice sta­tion.

They are on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave while the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice in­ves­ti­gates.

An in­ter­nal ad­min­is­tra­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion will fol­low. The re­sults are to be turned over T.J. Smith, Po­lice Department spokesman, watches a video from a po­lice body cam­era that recorded a po­lice-in­volved shoot­ing. to a po­lice per­for­mance re­view board. The of­fi­cers will be of­fered coun­sel­ing.

Davis said the man at­tempted sui­cide months ago and was treated re­cently for a men­tal ill­ness.

“How is some­one who is ap­par­ently suf­fer­ing from a men­tal health crisis out like that?” Davis asked. “Where along the line out­side of law en­force­ment has the per­son been failed? Why is he out there at that time of morn­ing, wav­ing both knives in broad day­light, threat­en­ing folks?”

The footage ver­i­fied the de­scrip­tion Davis gave of the event dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on Fri­day.

Davis said then that the of­fi­cers went “step by step” dur­ing the sit­u­a­tion to pro­tect the pub­lic and them­selves from the man.

“I’m so proud of th­ese of­fi­cers, the way they re­sponded to the scene, the way that they at­tempted to de-es­ca­late,” he said Fri­day. “Un­for­tu­nately, that didn’t work.”

But asked Wed­nes­day whether of­fi­cers should have fired their ser­vice weapons at the same time an of­fi­cer fired a Taser — which is used as an al­ter­na­tive to more lethal force — Deputy Com­mis­sioner Ja­son John­son said all as­pects of the case, in­clud­ing po­lice train­ing and pro­to­col, will be re­viewed.

“The rest of it is some­thing we need to learn through the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” John­son said. “The video is one el­e­ment of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Po­lice have equipped about 600 of­fi­cers with cam­eras since May. The city has ap­proved spend­ing $11.6 mil­lion over five years to pro­vide all 2,500 of­fi­cers with cam­eras by 2018.

Po­lice say the cam­eras al­low the depart-

“I’m so proud of th­ese of­fi­cers … the way that they at­tempted to de-es­ca­late. Un­for­tu­nately, that didn’t work.” Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis

ment to more ac­cu­rately record what takes place dur­ing po­lice shoot­ings and other in­ci­dents. Re­searchers say they give the pub­lic more trans­parency when of­fi­cers’ ac­counts are ques­tioned, and also act as a re­minder for of­fi­cers to fol­low pro­ce­dures and stay within the bounds of law.

Across the Bal­ti­more re­gion, po­lice de­part­ments are test­ing or buy­ing the cam­eras as po­lice of­fi­cers na­tion­wide face more scru­tiny in the wake of the high­pro­file shoot­ings of un­armed black men.

Davis told City Coun­cil mem­bers at a Pub­lic Safety Com­mit­tee meet­ing last week that over­all com­plaints against of­fi­cers have fallen 20 per­cent this year, from 729 last year to 584. He said com­plaints about of­fi­cers us­ing un­nec­es­sary force are down 38 per­cent, from 135 to 84.

Davis said 19 of­fi­cers have been fired or are in the process of be­ing fired this year after be­ing found in vi­o­la­tion of department poli­cies. Law­suits against the department for civil rights vi­o­la­tions are at a five-year low, the com­mis­sioner said.

KIM HAIRSTON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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