Wife of man shot by police is `outraged,' lawyer says

Officer apparently mistook cellular phone for gun

no weapon found

September 12, 1999|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

The wife of an unarmed man shot and killed Friday by a Baltimore police officer who apparently mistook a cellular phone for a gun is "outraged," according to the man's lawyer.

Mardio House -- who turned 27 Friday -- was shot three times in the stomach at 11 a.m. after leading a Baltimore police officer and federal Drug Enforcement Administration officer on a foot chase in East Baltimore.

"There's a large level of shock, outrage, anger, confusion," said Harry McKnett, House's attorney.

He said House's wife, Marletta, has asked him about representing her in possible legal action against the city.

In a statement released by McKnett, Marletta House said, "I cannot understand how the man who shot and killed my husband could not tell a cell phone from a gun at a distance of only 20 feet."

McKnett said the couple were recently married and had a 2-year-old son.

The shooting occurred at North Montford and Llewelyn avenues, after Detective Christopher Graul and an unidentified DEA agent approached him, attempting to serve a federal warrant for failure to appear for a hearing.

House led the two law enforcement officers on a short chase before he was shot. He died during surgery a short time later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

House had been scheduled to appear for a detention hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court, where he could have been ordered jailed, pending the start of a trial Monday on drug conspiracy charges.

He and 14 other defendants, known as the "Nickel Boys," were arrested in O'Donnell Heights last year. House had been restricted to home detention since then.

House's last known address was in the 800 block of Peach Orchard Lane in Dundalk, police said yesterday.

Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a Baltimore police spokeswoman, said a search of the shooting site yesterday confirmed what witnesses to the shooting had said on Friday: that House was holding a flip-top cellular phone, not a gun.

"No, we did not find a weapon," Cooper said.

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