Officer kills man wanted in assault

Police say victim lunged with metal-tip umbrella

City veteran fired two shots

Officials expect shooting will be ruled justified

May 30, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A veteran city police officer shot and killed a 39-year-old man in Northwest Baltimore yesterday after the man lunged toward police while holding a metal-tipped umbrella, authorities said yesterday.

Police identified the man as Kevin Vines, who had served an 11-year state prison sentence for attempted murder and who was wanted by police on charges stemming from a recent assault on his former girlfriend with a knife.

Officer Randolph K. Brown, a 19-year veteran, has been placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of an internal investigation. Police officials said the shooting would likely be ruled a justified use of lethal force.

"The officer was in fear for his life," said Officer Sheri Albrecht, a police spokeswoman. "He was only feet away from the suspect and felt immediately threatened."

Brown, another officer and a parole and probation officer -- all members of the city's Warrant Apprehension Task Force -- tried to arrest Vines about 7:30 a.m. at his house in the 5400 block of Nelson Ave., police officials said.

Vines slipped out a side door and apparently grabbed the umbrella on his way out, police said. Officers began driving around the neighborhood looking for Vines, whom they found several blocks away at Rubin and Dawes avenues.

Police said that it was not raining and that Vines was wielding the umbrella as a weapon. As officers approached in an unmarked car, Vines lunged at the driver's window with the umbrella, they said. Police said the umbrella has a 3 1/2 -inch metal tip.

Brown and another officer got out of the car and distracted Vines, police officials said. Vines lunged at Brown from a few feet away as the officers yelled for him to halt and drop the umbrella, which he was holding over his head, police said.

Brown fired two shots, hitting Vines both times, police officials said. Vines died at the scene.

Police said officers are often warned about the dangers of umbrellas and other items that can be used as weapons, such as car keys and pens.

Brown and other officers were concerned about Vines' potential for violence because he was wanted on charges of assaulting his former girlfriend, police officials said. Vines had a lengthy criminal record, including a conviction in 1994 for attempted murder.

On May 23, police said, Vines' former girlfriend was assaulted and two knives were held to her throat in her Baltimore home. Another man intervened and called authorities, allowing the woman to escape to her roof, police said.

Vines, who also used the name Kevin Smith, left the house before police arrived. Officers obtained a warrant for Vines' arrest on assault and deadly weapons charges.

Henry Belsky, a lawyer who represents Brown for the Fraternal Order of Police, said the officer acted appropriately.

"He operated within the guidelines," Belsky said. "He is the kind of police officer our department needs."

Belsky said Brown is an ordained minister studying to get his doctorate in theology at a Virginia university. He is the father of two children.

"He will fully cooperate," Belsky said.

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