Jury calls Martin shooting 'justified'

October 22, 1991|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

The Baltimore County grand jury found yesterday that a county police officer was "justified" in fatally shooting Sadiq A. Martin, 19, last month as he allegedly tried to run down the officer.

Mr. Martin's parents and members of the Sadiq Martin Action Committee for Justice questioned the use of deadly force on Mr. Martin, a Postal Service employee with no criminal record, who lived with his parents in the 2900 block of Silver Hill Court in Northwest Baltimore.

But the county state's attorney's office released a statement yesterday, saying in part, "After hearing all of the evidence, the grand jury concluded that the conduct of the officer was justified."

Mr. Martin's father, Hubert R. Martin, 45, a correctional officer at the Jessup pre-release unit, said last night that the finding "was not a big surprise."

Even if the police account is true, he said, "Does the alleged theft of a car part require the amount of response in terms of the number of officers and the degree of force used? . . . The car was in motion when the officer approached. He knew he was putting himself in danger.

"So many actions could have been taken, short of the use of deadly force," Mr. Martin said, noting that as a correctional officer, "there are situations where you are permitted to use degrees of force," according to policy.

The incident began about 10 a.m. Sept. 23 when officers on patrol near Woodlawn High School thought they saw a car being stolen and tried to block several youths in a Dodge Raider from leaving the school parking lot.

The Raider, which Mr. Martin was driving, belonged to his mother, who said she had given him permission to drive it.

Police said Sadiq Martin rammed an unmarked police cruiser and headed toward Officer Timothy T. Mitchem, 29, who stood nearby. Officer Mitchem told his supervisors he fired six shots as he backed away from the Raider.

One shot hit Mr. Martin in the chest. He died an hour later at St. Agnes Hospital.

A radio stolen from a car in the lot was recovered from the Raider, police said, and two passengers in the vehicle were captured. A 17-year-old was cited as a juvenile, and Theron C. Hill, 20, of the 5500 block of Gwynn Oak Avenue, was arrested on charges of theft, conspiracy and destruction of property.

Hubert Martin said five or more witnesses had contacted their committee with "contrary statements" and were referred to the family's attorneys, who are considering filing a civil lawsuit in the case.

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