Officer held in killing of city man

17-shot police weapon emptied at wife's boyfriend, police say

March 17, 2001|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A city police officer with a history of assault complaints was arrested early yesterday and charged with killing his wife's boyfriend outside the victim's Northeast Baltimore home, according to authorities and court documents.

Officer Rodney Price, 34, was charged with first-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a felony. He was being held without bail yesterday at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Police arrested Price about 2 a.m., 3 1/2 hours after the shooting, near his townhouse in the 5100 block of Windermere Circle in White Marsh as he tried to drive off with several family members in his car.

Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said city and county officers boxed in his car to avoid having to chase him.

The victim was identified as Tristin D. Little Sr., 28, of the 5400 block of Cedonia Ave. Norris said Little was shot several times in the head and body as 17 bullets were fired from a 9 mm semiautomatic Glock handgun in the parking lot of his apartment building.

The officer's wife, Charice Lynn Price, 30, saw the shooting, police said. "She identified the victim ... an intimate friend," according to court documents filed yesterday.

Price, who has been on the force for 13 years, is the fourth city officer to be charged in a domestic killing since 1993 and the second one this week arrested on a felony charge. Officer Joseph P. Comma was charged Monday with breaking into an Internal Affairs office.

Little's relatives could not be reached yesterday, but Norris said they have accused the department of ignoring Charice Price's calls for help. They say she called Internal Affairs several times to complain that her husband had threatened Little, he said.

Two weeks ago, Price confronted Little and said, "I told you to stay away from my wife," according to Norris. The commissioner said no record of the calls to Internal Affairs could be found.

Police said Price was on his way to work the midnight shift on Thursday when he confronted Little again. The officer was wearing department-issue pants and a civilian shirt, and had the couple's children, ages 3 and 10, with him at the time, police said.

Norris said Little was shot in the parking lot. How many times he was struck was not released yesterday, but Norris said the gun was emptied of its 17 bullets. The children apparently did not witness the shooting, police said.

Price drove away from the complex, went back home and called in sick, Norris said.

According to court documents, his department-issued 9 mm Glock semiautomatic handgun was used in the shooting.

Price was never convicted, departmentally or criminally, of any of the charges lodged against him, including those by his wife.

In 1988, a year after he joined the force, he was charged in a criminal case with hitting a man. He was found not guilty at trial.

In 1994, police sources said, Charice Price filed internal charges of abuse against her husband but refused to sign her transcript, and the case was never pursued.

In 1995, Price was charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl who worked at a McDonald's restaurant where he provided off-duty security. Prosecutors dropped the case after the alleged victim refused to testify.

He was charged in 1998 with assaulting a man who police sources say was another boyfriend of his wife.

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