Police officer involved in domestic shooting fired by commissioner He also was videotaped fatally shooting man at Lexington Market

December 06, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police officer who was videotaped fatally shooting a man armed with a knife outside Lexington Market in August was fired yesterday for shooting at a woman and another man two years ago.

Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier concurred with a recommendation made in November by a three-member police trial board, which heard one day of testimony and said Officer Charles M. Smothers II should be fired.

"I think we're clearly on record as to our position on domestic violence," said Frazier, who has made it known he wants to fire any officer convicted in a case related to domestic abuse.

Smothers was found guilty of three administrative charges that he fired his service weapon on April 1, 1995, at Michael Scott, a Baltimore County police officer, and Linda Callwood Smothers, who was Smothers' girlfriend at the time. The couple were

married two months after the incident.

Smothers had testified that his service weapon had fallen from its holster during a scuffle with Scott and had fired inadvertently.

Smothers could not be reached for comment yesterday. Officer Gary McLhinney, president of Baltimore's Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said Smothers, a four-year veteran, plans to file a lawsuit seeking to have the firing overturned.

The controversy began when police commanders learned that Smothers had been given back his gun and badge in August 1996, despite being convicted in the domestic assault and sentenced to two years of probation.

Embarrassed police officials learned of Smothers' status after he fatally shot James Quarles in front of a crowd Aug. 9.

As a result, the department conducted a review in which Frazier suspended 35 officers who were patrolling city streets despite pending disciplinary hearings on charges of misconduct, beating their wives and girlfriends and using excessive force.

McLhinney said Frazier wanted to fire Smothers to avoid dealing with the controversial shooting of Quarles.

"The Police Department obviously wanted to put this behind them as quickly as possible with not having to directly speak for the Lexington Market incident," the union president said.

But Frazier said the two issues are separate.

He said the department will continue to investigate the market shooting to critique how well officers handled the situation.

Smothers was among a group of officers confronting Quarles, who refused repeated demands to drop a knife. Smothers fired one shot from about five feet away.

A bystander captured the incident on videotape, which quickly became national news.

State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy declined to take the case to grand jury, sparing Smothers criminal charges.

Pub Date: 12/06/97

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