An off-duty Baltimore police officer who witnesses say pulled a motorist out of his car at gunpoint during a rush-hour argument on the Beltway last week has been charged with assault, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment and a handgun violation.
Officer Tarodd Shawndre Jacobs, 24, a city police officer for two years and assigned to Southwestern District, was charged in Baltimore County District Court after Andrew J. Paladino, a Towson accountant, filed a criminal complaint late Friday with a county District Court commissioner.
The felony and misdemeanor charges will be reviewed by the county state's attorney's office and could be presented to a grand jury or in a preliminary hearing in about 10 days, said State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor.
Maj. Gary Lembach, commander of Southwestern District, said yesterday that Jacobs' police powers would be suspended and he would be reassigned to an administrative job at the district until the charges are resolved.
In addition, Lembach said, he is conducting an internal police investigation of the incident.
"I'm not saying there's any guilt here," the major said. "It's an emotional issue, and I'd rather he not be on the street with a gun and assist people with their problems when he has problems of his own."
Jacobs declined to comment yesterday.
According to a statement Paladino gave to Maryland State Police last week, the incident took place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, beginning with a minor sideswipe incident between two cars at the York Road exit of the Beltway.
Paladino told state police that Jacobs' car was in front of him, came to an unexplained stop and when Paladino tried to pass the car in the right lane "the other car started to go and force me off the road."
Paladino's statement said Jacobs "kept following me to the point where I was getting scared." He said Jacobs drove up next to him, pointed a gun toward his car and cut him off.
Next, Paladino alleges that Jacobs pulled him out of his car at gunpoint and forced him onto the pavement of the Beltway's gridlocked middle lane as other motorists watched.
"He was very upset, cursed at me ," Paladino told police.
Paladino then called for someone to notify police, said his attorney, Jeffrey N. Pritzker. At that time, Jacobs -- off-duty and in street clothes -- identified himself as a police officer, Pritzker said.
State police charged Paladino with "unsafe passage" in the case.
Paladino, who turned 36 today, said yesterday he still is shaken by the incident.
"At first, there was no feeling at all," said Paladino.
"Then I got scared. I was laying on the ground, and I thought I'd find out what a bullet would feel like going through my body."
Pub Date: 10/15/96