Officer says burglary suspect had tried to reach for her gun

January 17, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

A Baltimore police officer who fatally shot a burglary suspect in the back as he tried to escape from custody told investigators the man stopped suddenly and reached back as though he intended to grab her gun, according to a police report of the incident.

Officer Darlene Early, 22, claimed to investigating officers that her 9mm Glock pistol discharged when the victim's hand came in contact with the weapon, the incident report said.

Raleigh D. Lemon, 32, of the 1000 block of W. Mulberry St., died several minutes later of a bullet wound that entered the middle of the right side of his back and struck his heart, a state medical examiner said.

The fatal shooting occurred Wednesday at Bon Secours Hospital, located at 2000 W. Baltimore St., where Mr. Lemon was being treated for minor injuries he suffered in an alleged fight with at least three police officers who had arrested him for a suspected burglary.

According to the incident report, Officer Early, a two-year veteran in the Western District, was assigned to guard Mr. Lemon in the triage room, where she had handcuffed him to a chair while he awaited treatment.

Police said she was the only officer assigned to guard him.

A hospital employee asked Officer Early to remove the handcuffs so Mr. Lemon could undergo a blood pressure exam, the report said.

When she removed the handcuffs, Mr. Lemon "bolted from the triage room and north into the emergency room corridor. Officer Early, directly behind him, shouted 'Stop or I'll shoot,' " the report said.

The suspect continued to run, heading down the corridor and eventually out the door to the ambulance area in front of the emergency room, the report said.

The officer, following close behind him, the report said, again shouted "Stop or I'll shoot."

"At this point [Mr. Lemon] stopped and rapidly began to turn towards his right and towards Officer Early," the report said of her account. Mr. Lemon "had his right hand out and extended and was swinging his arm around" toward her, she told investigators.

The officer had her right hand -- which held the pistol -- extended toward Mr. Lemon; she was "fearing for her life . . . ," the report said.

Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman, did not comment on the incident.

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