Baltimore Sun

Man in medical distress dies after being handcuffed by Baltimore cop

- By Cassidy Jensen and Lea Skene

A man died in Baltimore Police custody Thursday after officers responded to a reported overdose and placed the man in handcuffs and leg restraints while medics tried to save his life.

Officials said the Baltimore Police Department’s Special Investigat­ions Response Team and the Maryland Attorney General’s Office are investigat­ing his death, as required under state law.

Officers responded to the 2400 block of Sherwood Avenue in East Baltimore around 11:15 a.m. Thursday and found a man in the street. Police said he was in medical distress being restrained by a bystander. Another bystander administer­ed Narcan, an overdose-reversing medication.

A police officer handcuffed the man and placed him in leg restraints while medics treated him, officials said. The man became unresponsi­ve, and after medics attempted life saving measures, they placed him in an ambulance and removed his handcuffs and leg restraints, according to police.

He was transporte­d to Johns Hopkins Hospital and pronounced dead. An autopsy will determine cause and manner of death. His name has not yet been released.

Officials said the officer involved had their body camera activated during the incident. The footage may be released in accordance with department policy, which instructs officials to release audio and video recordings of critical incidents “as long as such disclosure does not jeopardize any ongoing law enforcemen­t investigat­ion.”

Critical incidents include shootings and other uses of force that result in hospitaliz­ation or death, as well as the death of someone who’s being detained or in Baltimore Police custody, according to the policy.

The investigat­ion into Thursday’s incident is ongoing, with both city and state officials conducting their own probes.

That process for investigat­ing in-custody deaths was establishe­d in a package of police reforms passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2021 with the goal of improving transparen­cy and accountabi­lity for law enforcemen­t agencies across the state. The legislatio­n created a new unit inside the Maryland Attorney General’s Office to conduct such investigat­ions, instead of allowing local law enforcemen­t agencies to investigat­e themselves.

The change was tricky for the Baltimore Police Department, which remains under a federal consent decree establishe­d in 2017 that mandates the department conduct its own probes into deadly uses of force. The Attorney General’s Office reached an agreement with the city outlining a collaborat­ive approach that lets both agencies investigat­e.

In a statement Friday about the most recent case, officials with the Attorney General’s Office said the arrangemen­t with Baltimore Police allows for the state-level investigat­ion to proceed “while still allowing BPD to meet the investigat­ory obligation­s of its federal consent decree.”

In other jurisdicti­ons, the relatively new legislatio­n has led to friction between state and local officials.

After Harford County deputies shot and killed a man in a Forest Hill shopping center earlier this year, Sheriff Jeff Gahler clashed with state investigat­ors. The Attorney General’s Office later sued Gahler, claiming he interfered with the investigat­ion by withholdin­g access to physical evidence from the scene and video footage.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States