Police justified in shooting youth,grand jury rules

October 22, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

The Baltimore County grand jury found that the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Sadiq Martin by police outside Woodlawn High School a month ago was justifiable.

Among those who appeared before the panel, which made its finding yesterday, were the two youths who were with Sadiq Martin during the incident.

Hubert Martin, the youth's father, promptly labeled the grand jury's finding predictable and unacceptable, and vowed to continue to press for a "fairer presentation of the facts."

"I expected this," the grieving elder Martin said late yesterday, adding that he has been unable to resume his job as a Maryland correctional officer since the incident.

He said that even given the circumstances as described by police, "I can't conceive of the police being right" in killing his son.

"How would Officer [Timothy] Mitchem feel if it was his son?" Martin said in the living room of his northwest Baltimore home, referring to the policeman who shot Sadiq. "He would be pressing just as hard as I am."

"I can't bring my son back, that's the ultimate," Martin said, "but I want justice to be brought." He added that he feels the officer's "intent was to shoot to kill. I cannot accept that."

Sadiq Martin was killed after a bizarre chase on the grounds of Woodlawn High, which began about 10 a.m. Sept. 23. An officer assigned to the Woodlawn precinct saw a four-wheel drive Dodge Raider with three young men on the school parking lot. One youth entered a parked car. The officer suspected that a possible theft was in progress and summoned other officers, who blocked the parking lot entrance. The school is a few blocks from the Woodlawn station.

After the youth left the parked car and re-joined his companions in the truck, the driver of the four-wheel drive vehicle took off, police said.

Sadiq Martin, the driver, eluded officers who approached him on foot, brushing past two of them, police said. The vehicle then circled a tree, hit a police car and reversed direction, accelerating up a hill toward Gwynn Oak Avenue just as Mitchem was walking down it, according to the police account.

Police said Mitchem could not get out of the way, and fearing that he would be hit, fired six shots. One hit Sadiq Martin in the chest. He died an hour later. A car radio allegedly taken from the parked car was found in the truck by police.

Theron C. Hill, 20, of the 5500 block of Gwynn Oak Ave., one of the other youths in the truck, was charged with theft. The third youth, 17, was charged as a juvenile.

Deputy State's Attorney Sue Schenning said the grand jury's finding means the officer fired only because he was "in fear of imminent bodily harm."

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