An unidentified man was shot and killed by a Baltimore police officer yesterday morning in a bizarre incident that began with a robbery complaint on a downtown sidewalk.
The incident began shortly after 9 a.m. at Eutaw and Fayette streets when an unidentified man hailed a passing police officer, complaining that two men had robbed him. The alleged robbery victim pointed out a cab less than a block away and claimed that the two suspects were in the vehicle.
City police said the officer -- Roscoe Lewis, 27, of the Western District -- took the man in his cruiser and drove up to the cab in the 100 block of North Eutaw Street. The officer ordered the two male passengers to get out of the cab and asked them if they had robbed the other man.
The two men said they had taken money from him, but told Officer Lewis they were all relatives and had taken the money in a domestic dispute. The men then returned the money to the alleged victim.
Police said the taxi driver told the two men to leave. But before he could drive off, one of them complained that he had left his keys in the back seat -- although the driver said there were no keys there.
The man walked toward the cab, followed closely by Officer Lewis. The policeman said he saw a gun on the back floor and ordered the man to lie face down on the street.
As Officer Lewis attempted to open a rear door of the cab, he said, the man jumped up from the ground, pushed him against the vehicle and attempted to reach inside for the gun, police said.
The officer said he responded by shooting the suspect fatally in the chest. The other men -- the supposed robbery victim and the dead man's companion -- fled.
Police said a loaded handgun was recovered from the cab.
Witnesses gave conflicting accounts of the shooting.
Three people -- the cab driver, a bus driver and a security guard -- supported the officer's version of the shooting.
Two other people claimed that the man was shot as he was lying on the street. When they were taken into custody for questioning, police said, it was found that there were outstanding arrest warrants for both of them -- one for violation of probation, the other for return to the state prison system for a hearing.
The shooting remained under investigation last night. Officer Lewis was placed on administrative leave pending completion of the probe.
The incident was the second this weekend in which a suspect was shot by a city officer.
A suspected drug dealer was wounded early Saturday on Ensor Street when he allegedly fought with an officer trying to arrest him.