Officials studying shooting by guard Correctional officer fatally wounds man he said broke into car

March 12, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The city state's attorney's office is investigating whether a correctional officer was justified in fatally shooting a man he apparently caught breaking into his car, police and prosecutors said yesterday.

Homicide detectives did not charge Cpl. Jermaine Johnson, 25. They said he cooperated with their investigation of the shooting late Tuesday outside his home in the 3200 block of W. Presstman St. in West Baltimore.

Deputy State's Attorney Haven H. Kodeck said his office is reviewing police files to determine whether the case should be referred to a grand jury. Kodeck declined to comment further.

Johnson, who has been a corrections officer since June, is assigned to the Herman L. Toulson Boot Camp in Jessup. Maxine Eldridge, a corrections spokeswoman, said Johnson remains on duty. She said he does not carry a weapon at the facility, a military-style prison.

Police said that he had state approval to purchase the weapon but had not yet been issued a permit to carry it.

Police said criminal charges regarding the weapon are up to prosecutors.

Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a city police spokeswoman, said Tuesday's incident occurred about 11: 30 p.m. after Johnson heard glass breaking.

He told detectives he looked out of the window of his home and saw a man standing next to his 1998 Nissan Maxima, which was parked in the 1500 block of N. Hilton St., a side street.

The spokeswoman said Johnson went outside, armed with a .380-caliber Highpoint semiautomatic handgun, and confronted a man, who he said was partially inside the driver's side of the car.

"He advised the suspect not to move," Cooper said, paraphrasing what Johnson told homicide detectives. "The suspect brought his body out of the car, suddenly turned toward Mr. Johnson, who then fired one shot."

The 25-year-old victim, whose name was not released pending notification of relatives, was struck once in the left side of the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cooper said that Johnson went inside his house, "called the police and told them he had shot somebody." She said police recovered a screwdriver from the dead man's hand and a crowbar from inside his coat.

Johnson, reached at his home yesterday, declined to comment.

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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