Police submit shooting findings

Prosecutor will make decision on any charges against FBI agent

Agency doing separate report

April 09, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt and Gail Gibson | Laura Barnhardt and Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County police have submitted the results of their investigation into the FBI's shooting of a Pasadena man mistaken for a bank robber to county prosecutors, who are to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the agent who fired the shot, officials said yesterday.

Police Chief P. Thomas Shanahan said the case will remain under investigation until State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee decides whether charges are warranted. Until then, county police will not release details of their investigation or records relating to the March 1 shooting, police officials said.

The county findings - delivered in a binder several inches thick - contain statements from Joseph Charles Schultz, 20, who was shot by an FBI agent, and from his girlfriend, Krissy Harkum, who was driving when they were pulled over by plainclothes agents. Schultz and Harkum were on their way home from a mall when they were stopped.

The county report on the shooting does not include an account from the FBI agent who shot Schultz in the face with an M-4 rifle, high-ranking county law enforcement officials said. Agent Christopher Braga, who retained a lawyer shortly after the shooting, declined to speak to county detectives, said the officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named.

In what was a case of mistaken identity, agents said they thought Schultz was a man they were trying to arrest on bank robbery charges. Schultz had no connection to the crime or to the suspect. FBI officials have apologized for the shooting.

Agents began following Schultz after he walked out of a convenience store in Glen Burnie where the agents were expecting the robbery suspect to meet a co-worker. Schultz was wearing a baseball cap similar to one often worn by the suspect and got into a red Pontiac Grand Am, which resembled a red Honda Civic that an FBI informant had told police their suspect would be riding in.

Lawyers for Schultz and Harkum have maintained that Schultz was trying to follow the agents' orders to get out of the car when he was shot on the side of Fort Smallwood Road.

Arnold M. Weiner, a Lutherville attorney who represents Schultz, said that he had not seen the police report or been told of its findings.

Braga's attorney, Andrew C. White of Baltimore, declined to comment. White said he had not seen the report and also did not know its findings. In the past month, county detectives have interviewed dozens of witnesses, ranging from the FBI's informant to volunteer firefighters who were among the first medical workers to arrive on the scene of the shooting, the law enforcement sources confirmed.

"I promised there would be a fair and comprehensive investigation," Shanahan said yesterday. "And I believe we've done that. We're obligated to do that for all parties involved. But it's the responsibility of the state's attorney to make judgments and decide whether charges should be placed. It would be wrong for me to discuss the case at this point."

Even if prosecutors have no additional questions for county detectives about their investigation, Weathersbee will not make a decision about charges until the FBI forwards the findings of its review of the shooting, said Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for Weathersbee.

Investigators from FBI headquarters in Washington are conducting a separate review of the shooting, with the results to be reviewed by attorneys in the Justice Department's civil rights division.

Riggin said no decision will be made on whether the matter will be presented to a grand jury until prosecutors review the reports.

After spending several weeks in Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Schultz returned home late last month to begin a recovery expected to involve a series of reconstructive surgeries.

Sun staff writer Michael James contributed to this article.

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