Officer not charged in fatal shooting In-house inquiry planned in death

February 07, 1993|By Staff Report $ $HC HbA

A young Baltimore police officer cleared of criminal charges now faces a departmental inquiry into the fatal shooting of a burglary suspect who broke free from her custody at Bon Secours Hospital Jan. 13.

Although the state's attorney said criminal charges will not be filed against Officer Darlene Early, 22, department investigators are focusingon several questions, including why Officer Early had her gun drawn.

Raleigh D. Lemon, 32, of the 1000 block of W. Mulberry St., was shot by Officer Early after he fled from Bon Secours' emergency room.

Mr. Lemon was being treated there for minor injuries from a scuffle with three other officers who had arrested him in a burglary.

Officer Early told investigators that Mr. Lemon stopped suddenly and reached back as if he were trying to grab for her gun. Her 9 mm Glock pistol fired when it came into contact with Mr. Lemon's hand, a police report said.

Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms said the autopsy report, which showed gunpowder residue on Mr. Lemon's hands, and an eyewitness statement supported Officer Early's account.

"It was our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to warrant further investigation at this time," Mr. Simms said yesterday. "Based on that we have referred the matter to the Police Department for whatever action they deem appropriate."

Police Department officials would not comment for the record, except to say that the investigation into the shooting is continuing. But departmental sources said several mistakes apparently were made before the shooting. They included:

* Arresting officers did not tell Officer Early why Mr. Lemon had been arrested.

* Officer Early should not have been left alone with Mr. Lemon, especially after he had scuffled with officers.

* Officers also should have put leg irons on Mr. Lemon in the emergency room, where handcuffs are commonly removed to facilitate medical treatment.

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