Police update shooting outside bar
Baltimore police have updated details surrounding the police-involved shooting from earlier today outside Eden Lounge the Mount Vernon, Mid-Town Belvedere neighborhood. At this point, it does not look good for the officer involved.
At left, Maj. Terrence McLarney, head of the homicide unit, joins police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi in briefing reporters at a 7 a.m. news conference. Here are some new details:
An-off duty Baltimore police officer repeatedly shot and killed an unarmed man who witnesses said groped the officer’s female companion outside a Mount Vernon nightclub early Saturday, a shooting that top department commanders say they find troubling.
While police said numerous witnesses confirmed that the victim had physically and inappropriately touched the woman and fought the officer, spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives have “not been able to find a concrete motive” as to why the officer felt he needed to take out his weapon and fire.
The victim, identified as East Baltimore resident Tyrone Brown, 32, was shot at least six times in the chest and groin, according to the police spokesman. The officer, a 15-year veteran assigned to the Eastern District patrol division, fired his department issued Glock handgun at least 13 times, officials said.
Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Barksdale has been ordered to be “intimately involved in the investigation.” A police spokesman said the officer refused to make a statement and declined to submit to a breath test to determine whether he had been drinking alcohol.
Officers involved in shootings are not required and cannot be compelled to answer questions from homicide detectives conducting a criminal investigation, though most do so after consulting union attorneys. Officers can be ordered to give statements only after the criminal investigation is complete, for the purposes of administrative review.
Guglielmi said the shooting occurred about 1:30 a.m. outside the Eden Lounge on East Eager Street, on the boarder dividing Mount Vernon and Mid-Town Belvedere. Dozens of people were on the street, including several uniformed city police officers who are routinely sent to the area on weekends because of the clubs and bars and past violence.
A patrol officer standing in an alley off East Eager Street, used by officers to park their vehicles, heard the gunfire and quickly responded to the scene. The officer who fired his weapon was not immediately identified and will not be until 48 hours after the shooting, in keeping with department policy. He has been taken off the street and assigned to desk duty.
In an unusual move that demonstrates the department’s concern, the commander of the Baltimore Police Department’s homicide unit, Maj. Terrence McLarney, briefed reporters at a 7 a.m. news conference and Guglielmi said the police commissioner was apprised of developments throughout the night. The spokesman said the commissioner ordered “his most trusted people” to ensure a thorough investigation.
Police said the officer was with a group of people inside the Eden Lounge late Friday and early Saturday. They left about 1:30 a.m., joining hundreds of others spilling out of bars and nightclubs in the neighborhood known for late-night revelry.
Guglielmi said Brown “approached and made advances toward the officer’s female companion.” McLarney said Brown grabbed and groped the woman. Police said the officer argued with the man, and then the altercation became physical.
McLarney said the officer identified himself as a member of law enforcement and gave “verbal commands” to Brown to stop fighting. At some point, Guglielmi said the officer took out his semi-automatic service weapon and fired as many as 13 shots. Officials said the two men were standing just a few feet apart.
Brown was rushed to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m.
Police commanders said Saturday’s shooting raises numerous questions, including whether the officer had been drinking and was impaired when he fired his gun, why he did not call for help from the many on-duty officers stationed nearby and whether it was appropriate for him to fire on an unarmed man in a crowd of bystanders.
Baltimore police officers are required to carry their service weapons at all times while on and off duty when they’re within the city limits. But McLarney said commanders urge them to use common sense and sound judgment. They are not required to carry weapons when doing so would be impractical, such as playing a pickup game of football or swimming.
There are no rules prohibiting officers from carrying guns into bars, but it is against department regulations to be intoxicated or inebriated while armed. Police officials said if an officer plans on drinking to excess while off duty, common sense dictates leaving their guns secured and at home.
The issue about officers carrying guns at bars has been raised many times in previous years.
Police point to several instances in which armed off-duty officers in bars have legitimately used their weapons to defend themselves or others.
In November 2009, a city officer shot a man who stabbed him during a fight outside a strip club, Christina’s Female Revue, in Dundalk. And in 2007, two city officers patronizing Club Fantasies in South Baltimore’s Curtis Bay neighborhood shot and killed a 38-year-old man who tried to hold up the club with a shotgun. The officers, who had just gotten off their midnight shift, fired after the robber fired into the ceiling.
But the practice came under strict scrutiny in 2008 when a city officer shot and killed a colleague, Norman M. Stamp, outside a Baltimore strip club on South Haven Street. Stamp had been out drinking with biker buddies to celebrate his 44th anniversary on the force when a fight broke out and spilled outside.
Three police officers rushed to the bar and confronted Stamp, who was hitting one of the combatants with brass knuckles. An officer Tased Stamp, who stood, pulled out his service weapon, and was shot by an officer twice in the chest. He later died.
Just last month, a block away from the scene of Saturday’s shooting, another off-duty police officer shot and wounded a man suspected of breaking into the officers car. That incident occurred at East Chase and North Charles street, between the Belvedere Hotel and Brewer’s Art restaurant and bar.
This latest shooting comes just one day after another city police officer shot and wounded a 26-year-old who police said was burglarizing the officer’s home in Dundalk, in Baltimore County. Police in that case said the suspected burglar was shot inside the officer’s living room.
City police officers have shot five people this year, killing three of them. Last year at this time, officers had shot eight people. The vast majority of police involved shootings are ruled justified. But a trial began on Friday in which a city officer, Thomas Sanders, is charged with manslaughter in connection with an on-duty shooting in 2008 in the Hamilton Shopping Center.