The grieving parents of a 19-year-old youth killed by police on the grounds of Woodlawn High School this week are questioning the police version of the incident, and say they want a detailed account of the events from authorities.
The parents, Hubert and Yvonne Martin, their attorney, Reginald Lawrence, and Rev. Emmett Burns, pastor of Rising Sun First Baptist Church, held a news conference today at the church on St. Luke's Lane to air their questions, and then drove to police headquarters in Towson to seek an interview with Chief Cornelius Behan.
Behan was out of town, but police officials were meeting with the family this afternoon.
Martin's son, Sadiq, was shot and killed at the wheel of his mother's Dodge Raider utility vehicle Monday as he sought to escape police who wanted to question him and two other youths about an alleged attempt to steal car radio equipment from a car parked on the high school lot.
Hubert Martin, a state correctional officer, said the family has had only sketchy details of the incident from police, but are hearing other versions of the story from Sadiq's companions and from Woodlawn students who were watching from school windows.
They claim, Martin said, that police fired on the truck before the final confrontation that ended in Sadiq's fatal wounding, and that the officer who fired the final shots stepped from behind a tree to fire, and was not threatened by the truck, as police had described.
Police spokesman Sgt. Stephen Doarnberger denied both assertions.
Said Martin, "My biggest concern is the degree of force being used." He said he could not explain why his son didn't merely stop and surrender when police approached.
"I think he basically panicked," he said of his youngest son. Sadiq was one of four children, including a twin sister. All three siblings are college students, said Hubert Martin, of the 2900 block of Silver Hill Ave. in northwest Baltimore.
"Even if he didn't stop, it still didn't call for that degree of force," he said of the police action. Lawrence said the family wants more information and an account of what inquiry will be done to determine what happened.
Doarnberger said a grand jury will be convened to consider the case, perhaps as soon as Monday.
Baltimore County Police Department policy on the use of firearms appears to allow the type of shooting according to the police account of what happened Monday. Doarnberger said a departmental review of the shooting will not be completed for several weeks.
Written police policy discourages the use of firearms in trying to catch a criminal suspect who is fleeing in a vehicle, and prohibits an officer from firing from a moving vehicle except in extreme circumstances, with one exception.
Doarnberger said Officer Timothy Mitchem, 29, was on foot approaching the four-wheel drive vehicle driven by Martin when the truck rammed an unmarked police cruiser, then changed direction and accelerated toward him, up a hill that Mitchem was descending.
Mitchem told his supervisors he began backpedaling and fired six times. Two shots hit the truck windshield and one hit Martin in the chest. The truck then drifted back down the hill and stopped. Two young men in the truck were arrested. Martin died an hour later at St. Agnes Hospital.
Theron C. Hill, 20, of the 5500 block of Gwynn Oak Ave., a part-time student at the New Community College of Baltimore, was released on his own recognizance yesterday after a bail review hearing in Catonsville District Court.
The other companion, a 17-year-old who was charged as a juvenile, was released Monday into the custody of his parents.