Ruling on police shooting spurs call for top prosecutor to resign

September 10, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Activists upset over a decision not to seek criminal charges against a Baltimore police officer in the Lexington Market shooting called yesterday for the city's top prosecutor to resign and demanded a civilian review board to watch over police.

A group called Concerned Citizens for Police Accountability and Review said State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy's decision not to take the case before a grand jury "has become a wake-up call."

The Rev. John L. Wright, president of the United Baptist Missionary Convention of Maryland, said that "when a society sanctions murder by allowing it to go unpunished, it has sunk to the lowest level of barbarism."

Joining the call for a civilian review board was Kweisi Mfume, president of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

On Monday, Jessamy announced a controversial decision not to seek charges against Officer Charles M. Smothers II, a four-year member of the force who shot a knife-wielding man last month outside a crowded Lexington Market.

Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier has been cool to the idea of a civilian review board, though he has established a civilian complaint evaluation board. The board's members review every use-of-force complaint and can send a case cleared by police back for more review or a departmental hearing.

Frazier released a statement yesterday saying he "is certainly open to discussing the many possibilities."

Officer Gary McLhinney, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said review boards have failed in other cities.

Pub Date: 9/10/97

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