FBI to probe police shooting in Baltimore Co. Chief makes request to ensure objectivity

September 27, 1991|By Roger Twigg HC

The Baltimore County police chief asked the FBI yesterday to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting death of a 19-year-old Woodlawn man by a county police officer Monday.

Police Chief Cornelius J. Behan said he requested the independent probe to assure the family of Sadiq A. "Deek" Martin and their supporters that there would be complete objectivity in the inquiry into the fatal shooting.

Hubert Martin and his wife, Yvonne, along with several other relatives and the Rev. Emmett C. Burns, pastor of the Rising Sun First Baptist Church, met with Chief Behan at police headquarters for about an hour yesterday to discuss their concerns over the investigation into their son's death.

Sadiq Martin was killed Monday after he allegedly attempted to run down Officer Timothy T. Mitchem, 29, who was trying to stop a four-wheel-drive truck on the grounds of Woodlawn High School in the 1800 block of Woodlawn Avenue.

Officer Mitchem was one of several officers who had responded to a report of a stolen car attempt at the school parking lot.

Police later said a radio had been removed from a car. Two others in the truck have been charged in the theft.

The Dodge Raider, driven by Mr. Martin, circled a tree several times, then headed toward Officer Mitchem, who fired six shots, one of which struck the young man in the chest, police said.

His parents said he had never been in trouble with the law before and probably "panicked" when confronted by police.

They questioned whether deadly force was necessary in a situation where only a petty theft had allegedly occurred.

Officials said the FBI will attempt to determine whether the shooting violated federal civil rights laws. Meanwhile, the county police will continue its internal inquiry and criminal investigation while the grand jury determines whether Officer Mitchem acted properly.

The victim's family contends that several witnesses will provide accounts of the shooting that differ with the department's as long as they can give their statements to an independent source.

By asking the FBI to investigate, Chief Behan said he hopes to "get rid of all fears. If it will satisfy the community and reveal the objectivity of law enforcement, then I am happy."

Sadiq Martin's father, who is a state correctional officer, said he "probably will never be satisfied until I receive all the answers," but he "felt more comfortable" about the investigation after meeting with Chief Behan.

Chief Behan said the incident is "very sad for everybody. The officer [Mr. Mitchem] is as touched as anybody. I doubt that anything could satisfy that hurt [suffered by the Martins]."

He said no members of the Martin family have been "demanding or antagonistic. What they are seeking is an objective, truth-seeking investigation with no holds barred."

The chief said county police are looking for others who might have witnessed the midmorning shooting, particularly students who might have viewed it from a school window or an adjacent athletic field.

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