Officer pleaded guilty in '01 case

He was involved in fatal shooting of teen-ager Saturday

Probation for beating girlfriend

April 10, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber and Liz Bowie | Del Quentin Wilber and Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore school police officer who was involved in the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy outside a city elementary school early Saturday pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend last year and was sentenced to probation before judgment.

City schools officials declined to comment yesterday on the investigation into the shooting or on whether Officer Marlon R. Lynch was disciplined for the assault, after which he was allowed to remain on the force and carry a handgun.

City police detectives continued to hunt for another youth who was at the scene of the death of Samuel Fitzgerald, a freshman at Northern High School who friends said dreamed of becoming an artist or architect.

Elaine Forte, Samuel's health teacher at Northern, said he was a good student who always turned in assignments and listened to directions. "He was very studious," she said.

Samuel's father and other relatives declined to comment yesterday.

Police said they were still unsure what happened about 1 a.m. Saturday, when Lynch was on a routine patrol and approached Samuel and an unidentified youth smoking marijuana and drinking behind Leith Walk Elementary School in Northeast Baltimore.

Lynch struggled with one or both of the youths, police said. Samuel was then shot in the back of the head, police said, and the other youth ran away.

Samuel died 13 hours later at Sinai Hospital. Police were unable to identify Samuel for several days because he did not have identification and had no criminal record, making a fingerprint match impossible.

Detectives learned his identity Monday after going through dozens of missing-persons reports from the weekend and finding one filed by Samuel's father on Saturday.

Police released no other details yesterday, and detectives had not taken a statement from Lynch, who has served on the school force for two years.

In August, Lynch was charged with second-degree assault in the beating of his girlfriend, Lisa Roberts, a city police officer, court records show. The records show that police responded to Lynch's house in Northeast Baltimore for a 911 hangup. When they arrived, Roberts told officers that Lynch had assaulted her, the records show.

The fight started during an argument about their daughter, records say. Lynch "became very upset and began to push Ms. Roberts with his hands, causing [her] to fall onto their outside porch steps," police said.

Roberts then ran inside to call police, but Lynch stopped her and pushed her against a washing machine, then shoved her again, and she fell over a weight bench and struck her head against a wall, court records say.

Police said Roberts suffered bruises on her right shoulder and a bruise on her lower lip.

In October, Lynch was sentenced to probation before judgment, including six months of unsupervised probation, and 24 hours of community service. Under probation before judgment, Lynch pleaded guilty, but the charges can be erased from his record if he stays out of trouble.

His lawyer at the time, Warren A. Brown, said they agreed to the sentence only after school officials promised that Lynch could remain on the force.

"They cleared it before he got it," Brown said. "If the school police weren't on board, we wouldn't have taken it."

Lynch, who was placed on administrative leave after the shooting, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In recent years, most police departments have taken a hard line against officers charged with domestic violence. Baltimore police have fired officers who were acquitted in court of assaulting their spouses.

The probation before judgment does not prohibit Lynch from carrying a firearm under state law, and police are not required to fire him.

Lynch is one of 11 officers permanently assigned to the Night Response Unit, with two shifts from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. School police officers assigned to patrol inside schools are not allowed to carry guns, but officers of the Night Response Unit carry handguns, officials said.

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