Police Will Examine Shooting By Officer

July 14, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

State police are investigating whether a Havre de Grace police officer followed proper procedures when he shot and wounded a man who threatened him with a knife.

The officer, Cpl. David Smith, shot 55-year-old William J. Burchette Sr. last Sunday after he threatened the officer with a butcher knife outside a city shopping center, said Sgt.John Van Gilder, spokesman for the Havre de Grace Police Department.

Burchette was shot twice in the left leg. He is in satisfactory condition at University Hospital in Baltimore, a hospital spokesman said.

Burchette, who police described as a transient in Havre de Grace, has not been formally charged, Van Gilder said.

Sgt. Richard E. Norman, the state police investigator, could not be reached for comment on the case.

Van Gilder said the department generally requests an outside investigation when there is a serious incident, such as a vehicle accident or shooting, involving a city officer.

"It's tomaintain credibility with the community," Van Gilder said.

A state police warrant filed in Harford District Court states Burchette bought a large butcher knife at the Dollar General Store at Havre de Grace Plaza in the 1000 block of Pulaski Highway.

Burchette left the store, removed the knife from its package and began waving the weaponin a threatening manner, police said.

An employee at a drug storein the shopping center called the police at 2 p.m. after Burchette threatened to cut off a customer's head, the report says.

City officers Smith and Jonathan Lacotti responded to the call and confronted Burchette, repeatedly ordering the man to drop the knife, police said.

"The defendant held the knife in his left hand and kept telling the officers to put their guns in their mouths and pull the trigger,"states the report, prepared by Norman.

Burchette approached Smith, who started backing away, and told the man to drop the knife, police said. When Burchette refused and continued to walk toward Smith, the officer fired two shots into the man's left leg.

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