Policy seems to back police in fatal shooting Officer in Woodlawn fired on truck he thought was going to hit him.

September 25, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

Baltimore County Police Department policy on the use of firearms appears to allow the type of shooting that police say occurred Monday at Woodlawn High School in which a 19-year-old man was killed.

Police spokesman Sgt. Stephen Doarnberger said a departmental review of the shooting, in which Sadiq A. Martin, of the 2900 block of Silver Hill Ave. in northwest Baltimore, was killed, 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.

"This does not prohibit an officer who is on foot from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle which is, at that moment, being used as a weapon against the officer . . . " the policy says.

Doarnberger said Officer Timothy Mitchem, 29, was on foot approaching a Dodge Raider sports utility four-wheel drive vehicle driven by Martin, when the truck rammed an unmarked police cruiser, then changed direction and accelerated toward him, up the 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. He was charged with theft, conspiracy and destruction of property in the case for allegedly trying to steal car radio equipment from a car parked at the high school. The 17-year-old, charged as a juvenile, was released Monday into the custody of his parents.

Hill's parents declined any comment after the bail review hearing and said their son also would have no comment.

Neither Hill nor Martin had any criminal record. Martin was driving his mother's Dodge with her permission, his mother, Yvonne Martin, said Monday.

Police said a Woodlawn precinct patrol officers watching the high school parking lot saw the Dodge enter with three young men in it just before 10 a.m. The officers saw one youth enter a yellow Mustang and then called for backup, fearing a car theft attempt.

As backup cars blocked the Woodlawn Drive entrance to the lot, the youth got back into the Dodge, which sped away onto the school grounds, with officers in pursuit. Doarnberger said the Dodge stopped after several hundred yards, but then went forward again, brushing two youth division officers who approached it on foot.

The Dodge began turning circles around a tree on the grassy campus, suddenly stopping when it hit another unmarked police car holding two detectives who had joined the chase, police said.

Police said the truck then changed course and headed up the hill toward Gwynn Oak Avenue, which Mitchem and his partner were descending.

Mitchem backpedaled to get away from the truck, and fired six shots.

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