Ex-officer testifies he feared for his life

Testimony given in civil lawsuit over fatal shooting of man

`I was scared'

Incident occurred in 1998 during an arrest attempt for suspected drugs

January 30, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A former Baltimore police officer testified yesterday that he feared he was going to be killed during a struggle in 1998 with Derek Robert McIntosh that resulted in McIntosh's fatal shooting.

Shane C. Stufft, 29, said yesterday during a civil trial sought by McIntosh's family that he thought McIntosh was reaching for his service gun in the incident Jan. 13, 1998. Stufft was attempting to arrest McIntosh for an alleged narcotics violation.

At the time of the shooting, Stufft was working undercover in a special police squad that focused on street-level drug sales.

Stufft, now a uniformed patrol officer for the Baltimore County Police Department, is being sued by Sheila Gray, McIntosh's mother. Her lawsuit is seeking more than $30 million in damages from Stufft. It also alleges Stufft is liable for the wrongful death of McIntosh, 25, and for violating his rights under the state constitution.

Gray's lawyers, A. Dwight Pettit, Mitchell D. Treger and Matthew E. Bennett, said McIntosh was unarmed and had complied with Stuft's commands before being shot once in the chest and once in the neck.

Chase into an alley

Stufft testified yesterday that he chased McIntosh into an alley in the 2200 block of Brunt St. in West Baltimore's Druid Heights neighborhood.

"I ran up to him and grabbed him from behind," Stufft testified. "He turned around and pushed up on me, and we both fell to the ground."

Stufft said that as he tried to handcuff McIntosh, the suspect got up. Eventually, he testified, McIntosh began swinging at him.

"The third time I grabbed him, when he turned around, he swung at me and hit me on the left side of my face, my head, and I fell to the ground," Stufft testified. "He got on me, hit me a couple times more and at that point was on my back, and I was trying to get him off my back. I felt pressure on my back that I believed to be a hand moving toward my gun in the holster. Moments later, I felt Mr. McIntosh grab the butt of the gun."

At that point, Stufft testified, he grabbed his gun and warned McIntosh: "Get off me, or I'm going to shoot."

Stufft testified that McIntosh continued trying to grab his gun: "I put the gun underneath my arm, and I shot."

`I shoved him back'

The officer said after he started getting up a wounded McIntosh again reached out for the gun. "I shoved him back, and I shot ... and hit him in the head. I was scared. I thought he was going to take my gun and shoot me and kill me."

As Stufft testified, one of McIntosh's relatives cried quietly. Stufft's parents, Donald and Susan Stufft, his sister, Kristin Parker, and his girlfriend, Katie Wheatley, were in the courtroom.

Plaintiff's daughter on stand

Before Stufft testified, Pettit called McIntosh's daughter, Taylor M. McIntosh, to the stand and asked the 6-year-old how she felt about her father's death.

"Sad. Because that was the only father I had, and now he's gone," Taylor said.

Attorneys Eileen A. Carpenter and Myron T. Brown, who are representing Stufft, did not cross-examine the girl.

The case, being heard by Circuit Court Judge Bonita J. Dancy, is scheduled to resume this morning.

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