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June 7, 2010

How is this police officer still on the force?

So now we know that Baltimore Police Officer Gahiji A. Tshamba, back in 2005, was intoxicated when he shot a man in the foot during a confrontation.

What we don't yet know -- and hopefully answers will come today -- is how Tshamba managed to retain his badge after the incident?

Tshamba, as we all know by now, is the off-duty officer who shot ex-Marine Tyrone Brown (left) six times in Mount Vernon early Saturday after Brown patted the officer's female companion on the buttocks. Brown was joking, his relatives say. Police say an argument grew into a physical altercation that led to the shooting. The victim's sister says there was no fight and that Brown apologized but was taunted by the officer.

Either way, police have been unusually blunt in calling this a troubling shooting and saying they are trying to determine whether Tshamba was intoxicated when he shot 13 tiimes. The officer has refused to make a statement and declined to submit to breath test. He has been put on administrative duties. A police spokesman said detectives have not found any reason to believe the officer's life was in danger.

So that brings us back to September 2005. Details remain sketchy but it appears that Tshamba had been confronted by a group of men who yelled racial slurs. Police said one threw a bottle at him, and another struck his car and then advanced toward him. Tshamba shot one of them in the foot.

Police and prosecutors ruled the shooting justified but disciplined him for being intoxicated on the job. I suppose you can be imparied by alcohol and still be justified in using your weapon -- escaping criminal liability -- but it's hard to imagine keeping a guy on the force under such circumstances.

I'm interested to see what new details surface once police can review his entire file later today.

Comments

I'd be very interested in knowing whether the '05 shooting was deemed justified on any evidence other than the officer's testimony.

You have to wonder what happened to cause the 2005 incident. I'm not saying racially motivated attacks/confrontations don't still exist and can certainly go both ways in this city. But hard imaging a group of me going after a black guy in a predominantly black city. Judging from his apparent anger issues, what did he do to lead to this attack?

Either way this guy better end up paying just like anybody else would for this. You can't get into a fight and then decide to pull your service weapon. Not to mention unloading that many shots.

Given the circumstances of the first shooting it sounds like the administration had a no win situation. if he had been fired for that shooting there would have been a big backlash, even though he was drunk when it happened.

It seems to me that there should be a common-sense rule about not carrying your service weapon when you're out drinking.

I think we should just wait for the enitre story to come out before passing judgement. His incidents were justified in the past. Why do we keep judging those? I use to believe an office of 15 years, that i've known by the way, would shoot a guy unless he's truley provoked with physical harm for himself or others. Officers are not suppose to fight like a thug. They suppose to shoot if threatened with physical harm. They train to shoot to kill. I am not an officer, and in many cases i don't like some things they do or get away with. But i know this guy, and he's about 100lbs. soak and wet and not a threatening looking or acting guy at all. I've winessed him under the influence and out of influence and he's always kept his cool; even under situations when others don't.

Where is everyone who usually talks about the perceived disparity of justice on the police force, this guy should have been let go multiple times.


Not to defend this killing in any way, but patting a stranger on the buttocks, even as a "joke", could be construed as a form of sexual assault. I don't know what the joke would be, but I don't think strangers would take kindly to being groped.

Obviously it didn't warrant the shooting that followed. If anything, the officer could have had the victim arrested for sexual assault.

It seems to me there should be a common-sense rule about not touching the backside of a woman you don't know.


To Mike.

I don't disagree with you, but we're talking about two different events here. Regardless of whether or not the officer acted properly in 2005, the fact he was intoxicated at work, and was intoxicated at the time he fired his weapon, is a completely seperate issue and should have resulted in his termination from the force.

I don't care if he saved the life of a busload of kids by his actions. If he was intoxicated on the job, I'd see that he got a medal for saving the kids, and then would fire him on the spot.

Frankly, it's unbelieveable to me that we're even having this discussion. Is there any other police force on the planet that doesn't feel firing your service revolver while intoxicated at work calls for immediate termination.

OK per this story investigators could not find evidence that the off duty "killer" was in threat of his life when he shot this man "13: times. Am I missing something here...take away he is a "policeman" and he shoots a man 13 times and the worst that is going on is he is on paid leave..Please comment if you think this guy should be locked up like any person who shoots and kills someone, and the fact he is a cop somehow says it is for at least now OK. Something is very wrong here...

I believe the officer should be convicted of MURDER. He is a murderer. In fear of your life or others shoot a warning shot, shot him in the foot. BUT 13 TIMES come on he needs to be behind bars for the rest of his life.

I Agree Totally With Steve We Need To Wait To Pass Judgement and the previous incidents have nothing to do with the matter at hand those incidents were already justified and if this so called ex marine was such this great guy that the media has been trying to betray why would he grab a womens butt thats totally WRONG and his sister say it was a joke what type of sick joke is that i wouldnt allow for no random dude to come up on me and feel my butt i would slap the heck out of him and i would be pissed. i know this officer personally and he's a great guy the image that the media is painting of him is not the guy that i've known for over 20 yrs and he would not just shoot a guy unless he's truley provoked with physical harm for himself or others so i believe u all should wait to hear the full story.

First of all the 2005 incident was "off-duty" so he wasn't "intoxicated on the job". He was in possession of a firearm under the influence of an alcoholic beverage (just wasn't sitting in a deer stand hunting). Alcoholism is a disease (thank you ACLU and ADA), you can't be fired from your job, you must be offered treatment.

I'm sure the Marine would have laughed if I patted his sister on the butt as a joke, right?

The man was not armed,The officer involved should be charged with 1st degree murder. To be suspended with pay is an insult to the victims family. Also when he refused a breath test,he should have been arrested on the spot like any other citizen and given a sobriety test.

Im a personal friend of of the VICTIM and he is a GOOD MAN and not confrontational. The officer has serious anger issues, the Baltimore police department and city has serious and dangerous issues as well. A innocent UNARMED MAN,FATHER,SON AND BOYFRIEND WAS MURDERED!!!!! BY AN OFF DUTY COP. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE. A TRUE INJUSTICE!!!!

Im a personal friend of of the VICTIM and he is a GOOD MAN and not confrontational. The officer has serious anger issues, the Baltimore police department and city has serious and dangerous issues as well. A innocent UNARMED MAN,FATHER,SON AND BOYFRIEND WAS MURDERED!!!!! BY AN OFF DUTY COP. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE. A TRUE INJUSTICE!!!!

He was NOT on-duty at the time of the 2005 shooting...please read the article before you comment.

That being said...there is NO WAY you can justifiably shoot an unarmed man 6 times. I don't care if its Chuck Norris. This officer will be spending a lot of time in prison.

If what I've read is true, this officer should have had his badge yanked in 2005. But then, considering dirt bikes, etc., Baltimore City standards have dropped significantly. If we settle for less that excellent, we'll get the worst of the worst.

@Mark, Well I know the son of the gentleman who was shot. I wonder if you would be so kind as to explain all of that to him??

Just to clear things up a little, to the best of my knowledge the shooting in 2005 happened while the officer was technically off duty, but at some point during the confrontation he identified himself as an officer and gave verbal commands. The second he identified himself as an officer that actually made him "on duty" from a legal standpoint. This is also what happened in this most recent event. The importance is once you identify yourself as an officer and your technically on duty you are protected by the "Officers Bill or Rights" this is why he was not arrested on the spot Saturday night and also why he was punished for his actions in the 2005 incident.

If there is going to be a double standard for police officers who break the law, it should be a HIGHER standard, not a lower one.The people responsible with enforcing the law cannot be placed above the law.

You try putting 13 rounds in some guy at a bar and see if you get arrested or not.

It may have been inappropriate for Mr. Brown to pat a lady on the buttocks, but the witnesses said he apologized. If the officer felt a real wrong had been committed, he should have arrested him. To put six bullets into someone would certainly indicate impaired judgement or out-of-control rage. Either way, he certainly does not deserve to be in law enforcement.

I Guess If The Headline Read An Off Duty Police Officer That Weigh About 100 Pounds Was Over Powered By An Ex Marnine And Was Disarmed by the ex marnine and Shot And Killed Would Be Ok NOT..... LEARN THE FACTS OF THE CASE BEFORE YOU COMMENT This Is A Horrbile situation For Both The Officer And The Ex Marine And I Bet If Someone Would Have Felt His Sister On The Butt He wouldnt Have Felt It Was A Joke What kind or joke is that and for His sister to be a women and to say he do that all the time Like Its Ok so becuz he's a big ex marine its ok for him to go around grabbing women on there butt why not speak the truth and say ok my brother was wrong he shouldnt have done that becuz its disrespectful the events that followed afterwards is another sorry it bothers me that everyone is so quick to pass judgement and everything u read in the media isnt always TRUE i pray for both the families this is a terrible situation im a personal friend of the officer And he's not a hot head murder as yall are stating JUST LEARN ALL THE FACTS BEFORE MAKING A COMMENT i've heard the officers side of the sorry and other individuals that was present and whats being said in the media and the statements that the sister are making arent 100% TRUE

I am sorry that this has happened to such a good person on both ends. No one truly knows what this officer was confronted with on Saturday morning. We do know that this death was sparked my a disrespectful action. I always say never underestimate a person because of size and just think it okay to do what you want to do...I feel we also need to wait and see what the complete story is befor jumping to conclusions.

I bet they would have a hard time getting rid of a African American officer... he would sue for discrimination

"Either way, police have been unusually blunt in calling this a troubling shooting and saying they are trying to determine whether Tshamba was intoxicated when he shot 13 tiimes."

Troubling Shooting??? Shouldn't that be Troubling Murder....

To say, I am shocked by the people coming to the defense of this officer, is an understatement. Yes, the victim may have made an inappropriate "joke", but is that seriously worth taking an unarmed man's life? Are people actually on here saying that an armed officer felt so threatened by an unarmed person that he had to fire 13 shots??? Seriously people. I don't care how long you knew him or how well you THINK you know him, he's animal and belongs behind bars. Just because you don't expect an action from someone doesn't mean they aren't capable of that action. We have enough to worry about with all of the armed thugs that run the streets of Baltimore anyway. If all Balitmore City police officers were allowed to shoot 13 rounds at unarmed people they disagree with, sober or intoxicated, we'd be in a lot of trouble.

let's see if I can sum this up...

this genius unloads his entire clip into Mr Brown after he pats some girl on the butt...what part of this story falls under "justifiable use of deadly force"? NONE OF IT....

@ MARK, I could care less whether you know the guy or not...he pulled the trigger, there's no denying that...he thought he was a tough guy, so he shoots an unarmed man 6 times in the back as he's walking away...

But let's look at some of the other "justified" shootings by Baltimore City's finest shall we?

11/2009, an off duty BPD officer walking his dog shoots a neighbor's dog in the middle of an Ellicott City neighborhood

The trial of Thomas Sanders on manslaughter charges after he shot someone in a parking lot in 2008

let's not forget our big hero of the hour, Gahidi Tshamba, shoots a man in the foot WHILE INTOXICATED mind you

But it doesn't stop at shootings, let's go back to April 2008 where a 44 year veteran of the BPD is shot by one of his own after he pulls a set of brass knuckles on an officer in a strip club

sounds like a crack team of cops we have in "Harm" City, huh? The cops are shooting more people than the criminals are!! Maybe they should leave their guns at work at the end of the day just like their cruisers??

A man assults a woman in a Baltimore lounge. Her friend an off duty police officer decideds to assist her but instead of identifying himself he argues with the suspect, then the two begin to fight. Judging by the actions that followed the fight I'm assuming the suspect an ex marine won the fight. At that point the officer shoots the marine? How is it possible to fight then after your losing the fight become a police officer and shoot an unarmed man in an act of self defense? Self defense would be identifying yourself as an officer, attempting to stop the situation from becoming physical, calling for backup, or even using non deadly force. But to willingly participate in a fight (maybe actually initiating, then shoot because your embarassed is wrong. Im a young black male and although this is a tragedy im happy that this was a black on black crime because now race is not an issue. This situation should allow everyone to see that there is a problem with the Baltimore City police dept. There is a blurred line in the city between the thugs on the corners and the thugs in uniform. Also how come he shot a white man in the foot once when there was a group threatening him but 1 on 1 against a black man he shoots 13 times? Is that because its easier to get off shooting a black man? Last question is it not obovous that he was drunk and guilty by refusing to take the sobriety test or make a statement? If you get pulled over and refuse the test your license is suspended, if you kill someone and refuse the test you get a desk job or suspended with pay. Baltimore City Police are a joke, thats why they arent respected and never will be.

To fire a gun 13 times and hit an UNARMED man 6 times warrants the death penalty. And for patting a woman on the butt??? Any well-trained officer knows better. ANY intoxicated person should not have a weapon. Due to the circumstances, this officer should have been forced to take a breath test so he could also be charged with alcohol related charges, such as public drunkedness. This officer obviously has anger issues, knowing this he drank at a bar with a loaded gun?????? Hope he gets the death penalty for depriving a wife and her children of their husband/father.

responding to:

"I am sorry that this has happened to such a good person on both ends. No one truly knows what this officer was confronted with on Saturday morning. We do know that this death was sparked my a disrespectful action."

Posted by: Beverly Hills


I feel the 'disrespectful action' is alleged. A 'good person,' does not shoot a Marine to death in cold blood while intoxicated over something that clearly did not warrant the death penalty.

He should be removed from the force and jailed.

how is he not in jail facing murder charges?????????????????????????????????/

Why is it that if you refuse to submit to a alcohol test after being stopped by the police for a traffic related incident you are immeadiately arrested! But this officer has the right to refuse the alcohol test after shooting and killing someone thats unarmed...it's mind boggling!

If I'm understanding it correctly, that's built into the law enforcement officers' bill of rights, a state law.

One of the first things we teach in gun safety training is that you NEVER handle a firearm if you have been drinking (no matter how little), or even if you are taking legitimate medication that might impair your judgment.

There are no legitimate excuses for what officer Tshamba did.

Wow. I thought good investigative journalism involved uncovering the facts so the public can make an informed decision about a specific event like this. So why am I reading in the morning Sun that Officer Tshamba fired in apparent self defense while off-duty after a night on the town back in ’05, and now I’m listening to Peter Hermann tell us that he was on duty at the time AND intoxicated? Did the police report from that event say that he was drunk, or had he merely “been drinking”? Why is Mr. Hermann giving his opinion as to whether Tshamba should be on the force after that incident? And why is The Sun so adamant about plastering a former Marine who is a murder victim in his dress blues on EVERY SINGLE PAGE OR BLOG that this story appears on? The Sun needs to stop taking sides, stop playing to the public emotions, and just give us the facts so we can draw our own conclusions. The truth will come out and, if the spin doctors can show some degree of restraint on both sides, justice will eventually be served. Or at least stand a chance of being served. After all, this is Baltimore.

I haven't seen Peter give an opinion about whether the officer should be on the force. He's raised the question, while reporter Bob Little reported on a prior incident involving the officer and alcohol. Meanwhile, we've been trying to get the officer's side, though he hasn't even given that to the investigators yet. If there's more, we'll report it. - Justin

Justin,
How can you say that Peter Herman isn't giving an opinion on whether the officer should be on the force when the title of the peice is 'How is this police officer still on the force?' and also says inthe article...'but it's hard to imagine keeping a guy on the force under such circumstances.'
Did you read the article befor eposting your comment?

This sick idiot obviously felt that since he was given a simple wrist slap from his pass intoxicated incidents, that this one is no different. This proves how lax the system really is. When an officer uses a gun on another individual under the influience of alchol, he's proven then to be a future problem. This jerk took this man's life for no real reason whatsoever. Maybe now this sick inadequate system will finally do something about this inhuman jerk, and look what it had to take to deal with him. And even now the sick system is on tv trying to soften the blow of this incident. Just how do you justify pumping 6 to 8 bullets in an unarmed human body and worst yet, 13 shots were actually fired at this unarmed man. This so called officer is proven to be a sick individual who acts violently when he's drinking. Thinking everyone wants his woman he's trying to show-off. I honestly do hope that this man's family will not just sue the department, but this sick jerk personally as well. He belongs behind bars for life and I hope the sucker rots there.

It bothers me that a police officer can shot an unarmed man & he is suspended with pay & not in jail with NO BAIL. How is it that he is still on the force after his 2005 incident. I mean what is this city coming to when police officers shot & kill unarmed people and they dont get punished for it. It seems as though as long as you have a badge you can do whatever & they wonder why we as citizens of Baltimore dont call the police. Why should we when there is a chance to be killed by pissing them off. They are suppose to protect people not kill unarmed men. This is just a mess & a resolution needs to be obtained because where it stands at this moment me as a single mother I dont trust Baltimore City police.

Im disturbed by the fact that this officer has had a number of prior shootings and still carrying his gun. He is not mentally fit for duty. If I had not taken a breathilizer I would have been arrested immediately at the scene. I am tired of the double standard when it comes to cops. He's losing his job, going to jail, and the family is going to win the lawsuit against the City.

I'm disturbed by any defense of this officer. If he were not a cop, he would be rotting in jail right now and we all know it. Gahiji Tshamba is a criminal. End of story. Stories like this is why so many of us have no respect for police officers. That the police union defends this behavior is reprehensible. And as for being touched by a stranger...have you ever been in a bar? As a woman I would politely smile and say no thanks or tell the guy to take a hike. I wouldn't shoot him 13 times.

Look, the value of life is going down as a moral right. Some of you are saying lets get the whole story, like just because he is black, he must have done something. Shooting a unarmed man is the begining of barbarism. Why do people carelessly trivialize someones life, like they didn't deserve to live it. 2 damn tours in Iraq. You damn patriotic moorons should be furious. Try this cop as a criminal!!!!

As a bar employee, I've seen Haji (the shooter) for many years at local bars/clubs...so strange to hear him referred to as "officer". His actions here have been very disappointing and inexcusable. This situation should have ended with a few punches thrown. One gunshot in the air would have been an stretch. One gunshot in the leg would have been excessive. With six shots, this is a no-brainer - the intent was to kill. Word around local bars is that he's a hot-head. May God bless Mr. Brown's family and friends.

As one serving in the military my appreciation to Brown and his family. I wish that his actions would have been a little different that night. He cannot be excused for that and the officer had every right to be angry, but to shoot 13 times - he was shooting to kill. Brown was unarmed and this officer should not have had his weapon at a bar while intoxicated. I'm sorry but he needs to pay the price and do the time. When did we start forgetting who the enemy is and who our allies are.

I've been around the Baltimore scene for a long time and know Gahiji. He's carried his firearm off duty ever since I've known him. He's also pulled his gun on people in many situations while out and drinking, and those incidents never made the news because no shots were fired or he was never caught. This event was a long time coming, unfortunately.

Prayers go out to the victims family.

@ Jenee and Everywoman..first off Everywoman...your comment was oh so irrelevant (do you know what that means?)Who cares about the officers bills of rights...you sound like someone who's main concern is to defend the injustices done by that madman that "vowed" to protect and serve....not just blatantly murder people for childish reasons....at this point, he has no rights and most certainly shouldn't be protected by some damn "officers bill of rights"...bottom line is your blog was not necessary and it most certainly didn't make a difference in what MOST of us consider an inhumane,senseless act of crime!! now to you Jenee...do you realize how frigging "juvenile" you sound defending this pig over something as childish as "groping someone's behind"...I'm sure you've had this same thing done to you once or twice in life (or maybe NOT!!)...back in the day young boys used to make a game out of that...don't get me wrong; I'm not justifying what the marine did, but all I'm saying is it doesn't justify him shooting that man 13 tms...that's overkill!! You sound like such an idiot for coming to the defense of a murderer...if you check the entire comments section, even some of his "associates" stated that he was a hothead!! @ Everywoman...why do you feel so strongly that this man was justified b/c he "identified" himself as an officer (20 hrs. after the fact)...you're a certified nut too...maybe you, Jenee and the officer/murderer need to get together for coffee and doughnuts....seems to me you all have the same things in common....STUPIDITY AND NO DAMN COMMON SENSE!!

It is always interesting to hear what a great family man some of these victims are. Where was the wife of Tyrone when he was groping at the night club. Tyrone..ex marine...How long do you get to be an ex...whatever Is the Marine corps planning a service for this guy?

This is not an unusual event. These worthless cops are everywhere. They kill at will and then make up stories, plant evidence and lie to cover it up. And in most states, the laws are written so heavily in favor of these killers that it is almost impossible to get justice. A cop in Fort Smith Arkansas or all places burst into a man's home late last year and shot him. The man was a threat to not one but this cop was trying out a new "killer cam" for Taser and wanted his 15 minutes of fame. There was no hurry, no one was in danger, the man had locked himself in his house and was talking to his boss on the phone when this 'Tackleberry' cop Brandon Davis kicked open the door and shot the man. And because he completely ignored the police department policy to NOT do this, and ignored the police of having paramedics on sceen, the man bled out on his dining room floor while the davis creep started rehearshing his story. Good luck to this kids Father. Hope he can get some justice.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.



Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.
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