Baltimore police fail to find gun on detainee at booking center

Weapon found in lockup

2 officers investigated

March 03, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Two Baltimore police officers who arrested a man on a minor nuisance charge failed to find a loaded gun that was in the suspect's jacket pocket -- a weapon that was discovered by a corrections officer inside the city lockup.

The lapse, which has triggered an internal police investigation of the two officers, could have had dangerous consequences. No one who works inside the Central Booking and Intake Center on East Monument Street is armed.

"It's a serious breach of security," said LaMont W. Flanagan, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Besides missing the Taurus .45-caliber handgun loaded with eight cartridges, the arresting officers also failed to find a magazine containing eight rounds of ammunition in the suspect's back pocket, Flanagan said. Flanagan said he will meet with Police Commissioner Ronald L. Daniel.

The incident occurred Tuesday when Officer Parker W. Edwards III arrested Eric Renard Forrester, 26, of the 2000 block of Division St. and charged him with consuming alcohol in public -- a misdemeanor that rarely results in jail.

In his police report, Edwards said he was patrolling Division Street, which he described as an open-air drug market, and arrested a man after seeing him with an open bottle of beer. The officer wrote that he searched the detainee but "with great regret missed the listed weapon."

Forrester was taken in a police van to the booking center by Officer Timothy B. Martin. Department policy requires that arresting and transporting officers search suspects.

The person in custody is supposed to be searched again at the entrance to the booking center, and state prison officials said they are trying to determine whether that was done. Forrester, in handcuffs, was escorted to the booking floor to be strip-searched. It was there, an internal report says, that correctional Officer Nathan Colbert discovered the weapon.

Forrester was also charged with illegal possession of a handgun. He was released on $1,500 bail and has a hearing next month. Sgt. Scott Rowe, a police spokesman, said Edwards and Martin remain on duty during the investigation.

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