County police officer is suspended after federal indictment

February 08, 1996|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County police officer has been suspended from duty after being indicted on federal charges of dealing in firearms without a license and unlawful possession of an assault weapon, police and federal officials said yesterday.

According to the grand jury indictment, Officer Timothy T. Mitchem was involved in "the business of dealing in firearms without a license" from about Dec. 7, 1992, to June 30, 1995.

He also "did knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully possess a semiautomatic assault weapon" -- a Colt .223 caliber rifle -- between Dec. 16, 1994, and June 30, 1995, according to the indictment.

Officer Mitchem, an 8 1/2 -year veteran, turned himself in Monday after a federal grand jury returned an indictment on Feb. 1, said Lynne A. Battaglia, U.S. attorney for Maryland.

Officer Mitchem's suspension without pay took effect Monday and will continue pending the outcome of the trial, said Sgt. Kevin B. Novak, a police spokesman.

After the trial, Officer Mitchem will face an administrative board to decide his future with the Police Department, the sergeant said.

The accused officer was stripped of his police powers and assigned to administrative duty at the Parkville precinct on June 29, after the department was notified of a criminal investigation being conducted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Sergeant Novak said.

Sheree Mixell, an ATF spokeswoman, declined to comment on the investigation that led to the indictment.

Officer Mitchem was placed on administrative leave once before, when he was involved in a controversial fatal shooting of a 19-year-old West Baltimore youth.

In that Sept. 23, 1991, incident, police were responding to a call about a theft at Woodlawn High School when several teen-age suspects fled the area.

Sadiq A. Martin, driving a vehicle with a passenger suspected of breaking into a car, fled police cars. He was shot once through the chest by Officer Mitchem as the vehicle headed for the officer.

A police investigation found that Officer Mitchem could not get out of the way, and fearing that he would be hit, fired six shots. Police said a radio allegedly taken from a car at the school was found in the trunk of the teen's vehicle.

A county grand jury found the officer's actions justified.

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