Man indicted on manslaughter charges
He allegedly caused Feb. 8 crash that killed 1, injured 5
A Baltimore man was indicted Tuesday on vehicular manslaughter charges more than a month after he allegedly sped away from police in a stolen car before crashing into another vehicle, a building that collapsed and a pedestrian who died from his injuries.
Handed up by a city grand jury, the indictment escalates charges stemming from the Feb. 8 crash that killed 54-year-old Albert Fincher and injured five other people.
Shawn Brunson, 33, is now charged with one count each of gross negligent and criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle, theft, unauthorized removal of property and driving without a license, a spokesperson for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office said.
Brunson previously had been charged in District Court with motor vehicle theft and related offenses. He has been held without bond on those charges from the time of his Feb. 9 arrest.
His attorney, public defender Brian Levy, declined to comment Tuesday.
Brunson’s indictment stemming from the deadly collision comes as the Maryland Office of the Attorney General’s Independent Investigations Division, which investigates civilian deaths involving police across the state, conducts a separate probe into the actions of Baltimore Police officers who attempted to stop the vehicle Brunson was allegedly driving and chased after as it fled.
The State’s Attorney’s Office’s Public Trust and Police Integrity Unit, which prosecutes police and public official misconduct in the city, also is looking into the officer’s actions, the agency spokesperson said.
Earlier this month, the attorney general’s office released video of the crash captured by Officer Devin Yancy’s body-worn camera and CitiWatch surveillance cameras.
Yancy’s body-worn camera shows the officer’s patrol car follow what investigators say was a stolen Hyundai Sonata, through several blocks of East Baltimore. While Yancy pursues the vehicle at high speed, someone speaking on the police radio tells officers to “just let it go.” Moments later, the person described a crash over the radio.
The Hyundai collided with a Mitsubishi Eclipse at the intersection of North Wolfe Street and East North Avenue. The CitiWatch camera footage showed the crash.
Racing through a red light at the intersection, the Hyundai collided with the front end of the Mitsubishi, which was traveling perpendicular to the Hyundai. The force of the collision sent the vehicles careening into a vacant building at the intersection’s southeast corner, plowing over Fincher.
The structure immediately collapsed, triggering an avalanche of bricks down on Fincher and the cars. Nearly a dozen officers could be seen sorting through the rubble to reach the vehicles’ occupants and pull them from the wreckage.
Five people, who were in the two cars, were hospitalized for their injuries but survived. Medics pronounced Fincher dead at the scene.
Police arrested Brunson when he was released from the hospital.
An attorney representing Fincher’s surviving family, who have remembered the demolition worker as a kind, helpful and loving relative, applauded the indictment.
“The grand jury and the Office of the State’s Attorney have done the right thing by indicting Mr. Brunson with these charges,” said the family’s attorney, Divya Potdar. “Those appear to be the only criminal charges available to the Homicide Division of the State’s Attorney’s Office.”
Potdar said she still is investigating the incident, having requested all body camera and city CCTV footage and the police report. She said that hasn’t been released to her because of the pending law enforcement investigations.
“We patiently await the State’s Attorney’s and the Attorney General’s investigation of the Police Department’s role in the death of Mr. Fincher,” Potdar said.