Driver shot by officer is charged

Police allege assault in nighttime midtown `road rage' incident

October 31, 1999|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

A 28-year-old man, shot by an off-duty police officer on a midtown Baltimore street corner Friday night, was charged yesterday with assaulting the officer.

Acting Police Commissioner Col. Bert Shirey said the police officer, Stewart Parker, 32, told investigators he was backed into a corner and believed he was in danger when he shot Dwight Allen of the 4300 block of Sheldon Ave.

The two men had been driving near each other on North Charles Street and apparently exchanged angry words or gestures before the shooting, police said. Police said Allen was unarmed when he was shot in the right leg.

An internal Police Department investigation has not been completed, Shirey said. But he said that he believed the case was "pretty straightforward" and he expected it to be completed soon.

Parker, a 14-year veteran of the police force assigned to the Southwestern District, has been given administrative duties until the investigation is concluded.

Allen was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital on Friday and then arrested and jailed at Central Booking, according to Angelique Cook-Hayes, a police spokeswoman.

The shooting comes three weeks after a Baltimore police officer fatally shot Larry J. Hubbard in an incident that has sparked protests about police brutality and a federal investigation.

Friday's shooting brought Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to the scene, but after talking with detectives, the mayor concluded that the incident looked more like "high-level road rage than anything."

Releasing further details of the incident yesterday, police said Parker was driving his own Plymouth Voyager north on Charles Street when an argument began with Allen, who was driving a Mercury compact nearby. "Some kind of verbal interaction between the two occurred," Cook-Hayes said.

The two drivers turned right onto Mount Royal Avenue and then right onto St. Paul Street. Parker pulled his car over at East Preston and St. Paul streets. Both men got out of their cars and Allen came toward Parker, who identified himself as a police officer, Shirey said.

Shirey said Allen "made violent overtures. He backed [the officer] into some obstruction -- I don't know if it was newspaper boxes or a sign -- and the officer fired and shot," he said. "The officer said he had serious concerns about his safety."

Shirey said witnesses confirmed the officer's account.

Baltimore Police Department policy requires officers to have their police weapons with them when they are off duty and within city limits. Parker, who has been a city officer since November 1985, used his police weapon to shoot Allen, police said.

Court records show that Allen has been arrested several times during the past decade. He has either been found not guilty or the charges have been placed on the inactive docket.

Allen's family declined to comment yesterday. A. Dwight Pettit, a defense attorney who represents Hubbard's family, said he was contacted by the Allen family yesterday. "It seems strange an unarmed man was shot over a traffic incident. The police seem to be trigger-happy," he said.

Pettit said yesterday he had not been retained to represent Allen.

Staff writer Tim Craig and researcher Jean Packard contributed to this report.

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