Autopsy planned on man shot with police beanbags

He died at hospital

police say he threatened them

May 19, 1999|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

An autopsy will be performed on an unidentified man who died yesterday after being shot with two lead-filled "beanbag" shotgun rounds while threatening police with two syringes in the living room of a vacant West Baltimore rowhouse, according to a department spokesman.

Sgt. Scott Rowe said the man, in his 40s, died at Maryland General Hospital, and that the incident has been ruled an "in-custody death." Rowe said police expected the autopsy to reveal whether the man died from being shot or some other cause.

"We just don't know right now," Rowe said last night, adding it was the first incident in Baltimore where a person died after being shot by a beanbag round since the device was introduced in 1996.

Beanbag rounds are nylon bags filled with lead pellets and weighing about 1.4 ounces. They are enclosed in a 12-gauge shotgun projectile. When fired, the bag unfolds while moving 200 to 850 feet per second. They are designed to stun a suspect without causing death or serious injury.

The effect, police said, is akin to being hit in the chest by a fastball thrown by Nolan Ryan in his prime.

Rowe said the shooting will be investigated by the homicide squad and the Internal Affairs Division.

Rowe said the incident began about 4 p.m. when Central District police and officers assigned to the Special Operations Division responded to the 1800 block of Druid Hill Ave. for a narcotic-related incident.

Rowe said that when police arrived, they confronted a man carrying two syringes in a vacant rowhouse. After a verbal standoff with officers in a first-floor living room, Rowe said, the man threatened officers with the syringes and failed to obey orders to drop them. Rowe described the man as "very combative."

Rowe said the man did not drop the syringes after officers used a chemical spray. Police then called for an Emergency Vehicle Unit which carries Tasers, an electronic anti-neuromuscular device used to subdue people. The unit also brought along the beanbags.

Rowe said a police officer with a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with the beanbags shot the man in the abdomen and the lower chest. The officer's name was not released last night.

Rowe said the man, though stunned, remained combative and had to be wrestled to the floor by seven officers. The syringes were recovered and sent to the crime lab for examination. The man's hands and feet were cuffed before he was placed on a carrying board.

Outside, he was examined by an ambulance crew, Lt. Ben Lieu of the homicide squad said, and showed no sign of injuries before being put into a patrol wagon about 4: 15 p.m.

Rowe said the man was taken to Maryland General Hospital by patrol wagon instead of an ambulance because he continued to fight police.

He was pronounced dead at 5: 55 p.m., Rowe said.

In November 1997, a man armed with a knife in the 700 block of S. Linwood Ave. refused to drop his weapon and was shot by police in the chest with a beanbag. The 46-year-old dropped the knife and was arrested without serious injury.

Pub Date: 5/19/99

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