County probes shooting by officer

Man was armed with screwdriver, authorities say


January 29, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County police were investigating yesterday whether a Crofton police officer was justified in shooting a man allegedly armed with a screwdriver Saturday night.

John Woodall, a six-year veteran of the Crofton police force, shot the man once in the lower abdomen, county police officials said. The man, identified as James Timmons, ran toward the officer holding a screwdriver in a "threatening manner," Officer Charles Ravenell, a county police spokesman, said.

Timmons, who told police he lives in Annapolis, was in serious but stable condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Timmons, 35, was charged by county police early yesterday with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and possession of a deadly weapon with intent to injure. Woodall was not physically attacked, but such a threat constitutes assault, Ravenell said.

According to county police, Crofton officers were responding to a 911 call about a man wielding a knife in the Keswick Park Apartments about 6:15 p.m.

When police arrived, Timmons ran out of a friend's apartment on the fourth floor of 2915 Greenwich Court and headed directly toward Woodall with a metal object that turned out to be a screwdriver, Ravenell said.

Woodall told Timmons to drop the object, county police said. However, Timmons continued to advance toward Woodall, who then shot Timmons, police said.

County homicide detectives are also investigating the circumstances that led to the shooting, which took place less than a half-mile from Crofton police headquarters.

Neighbors said they saw the man who was shot arguing with a female tenant shortly before Crofton police arrived Saturday.

"He was arguing with a woman who lives here, trying to grab her by the arm," Mariette Thomas said. "She said, `He's really scaring me.'"

Thomas said another neighbor came to the woman's aid.

Other residents in the apartment complex just off Davidsonville Road said they heard the couple yelling and doors banging. But they said crime - especially violence - is rare in the community.

"It's bizarre," neighbor Tom Banda said.

After police conclude their investigation, the shooting will be reviewed by county prosecutors to determine whether deadly force was warranted, said Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office.

County police handle all specialized investigations in Crofton as part of a formal agreement between the town and county, authorities said. Because of its size, the Crofton Police Department doesn't have specialized units such as a homicide unit or an internal affairs division, Crofton police Chief Larry Schweinsburg said.

There are six sworn officers on the Crofton force, including the police chief. Although Crofton police were once a special police force regulated by Maryland State Police, they are now a fully licensed, independent department, town officials said.

Woodall has been placed on paid administrative leave while county police investigate, Schweinsburg said.

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