Slain man drew fake gun on officer Police don't know why man who was killed by officer pulled out fake gun.

August 30, 1991|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff Joe Nawrozki and William B. Talbott contributed to this story.

Police still haven't a clue why a northwest Baltimore man apparently pulled a fake handgun on a Southwestern District officer, who in turn drew his service weapon and fatally shot the man, police said.

"Only the suspect knows" why he pulled the fake gun, said Agent Arlene Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the city Police Department. "He didn't say anything."

Theodore Bushrod Jr., 33, of the 3100 block of Piedmont Ave., was pronounced dead at the scene after being shot by Officer Thomas Mistysyn.

Shortly before 9 a.m. yesterday, Mistysyn, 25, a one-year veteran who has been on the street for four months, was patrolling Walbrook Avenue and Poplar Grove Street in a marked police cruiser when he saw a man standing on a corner. Mistysyn drove several blocks, returned and found the man still on the corner, a block from a Drug Free Zone, police said.

Mistysyn decided he would conduct a "field interview," or get the man's name and address, police said.

When he approached the man, Mistysyn said, the man produced what appeared to be a .45-caliber handgun from his trousers pocket and pointed it in the officer's face.

During a struggle that ensued, Mistysyn pulled his 9mm semiautomatic handgun from his holster and fired three shots into Bushrod's chest, police said. City officers are trained to fire three rounds once they make the decision to fire.

Mistysyn decided he would conduct a "field interview," or get the man's name and address, police said.

When he approached the man, Mistysyn said, the man pulled what appeared to be a .45-caliber handgun from his trousers pocket and pointed it in the officer's face.

During a struggle that ensued, Mistysyn pulled his service revolver from his holster and fired three shots into Bushrod's chest, police said. City officers are trained to fire three rounds once they make the decision to fire.

After the shooting, Mistysyn learned that Bushrod's gun was made of plastic and a fake, police said.

Jenkins said Mistysyn and Bushrod were not acquainted and that the fake gun is of a type often used by collectors.

"It's a gun made to look very realistic, but doesn't fire projectiles," she said. "The only way to tell it was not real is to examine it."

The shooting was Mistysyn's first on the force, Jenkins said. He was placed on standard administrative leave with pay during an investigation by police internal affairs.

Homicide officers will investigate the shooting and the state's attorney will review homicide's findings to make sure no criminal intent was involved -- both normal department procedures, Jenkins said.

Four years ago, Bushrod was acquitted in the September 1986 (( robbery-murder of Kwang Ja Kim, 45, a grocer at C&K Wines and Grocery in the 3000 block of Windsor Ave. Police said robbers stole $1,500. Bushrod was found not guilty four months after his first trial ended in a hung jury. Another man was charged in the murder, too.

The neighborhood where Bushrod was killed is turf for drug dealers, residents said. Dealers start selling about 7 a.m. and continue late into the night.

"They stand on the corners, in the middle of the block" selling drugs, said a resident who asked not to be identified. "They look like zombies."

Police come, but leave quickly, the resident said. And the drug dealers return.

Meanwhile, Bushrod's family was shaken.

"Your natural response would be to feel anger any time a loved one is killed," said a man, who identified himself as Bushrod's brother in a brief telephone conversation.

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