Week In Review

May 28, 2006

Anne Arundel

Owens joins fray in BGE rate debate

Saying the Public Service Commission failed to follow state law in approving a BGE rate increase deferral plan, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens and the elected leaders of the other two largest counties in the Baltimore area demanded Thursday that the governor and top General Assembly officers immediately convene a special legislative session to reconstitute the embattled regulatory body.

The letter from Owens, Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. and Howard County Executive James N. Robey, all Democrats, is a boost to Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democratic candidate for governor. O'Malley has been critical of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s appointees to the PSC and has filed a lawsuit seeking a new hearing on the rate plan that allows cross-examination and a broader scope of testimony.

Ehrlich and BGE officials have dismissed O'Malley's criticism as election-year posturing, but the action by the three executives demonstrates the widespread concern over this summer's looming 72 percent electric rate increase and a growing lack of confidence in the PSC to provide relief.

The letter came hours after BGE filed documents in Baltimore Circuit Court asking a judge to order the PSC to reconsider the rate stabilization plan at a new hearing with sworn witnesses and cross-examination.

Section A, Friday

Brooklyn

Driver shot; car runs into home

It was about 5 a.m. Wednesday, and Emma Walker had showered and dressed for work when she heard "a commotion" outside her brick rowhouse in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Baltimore.

"I looked out the window and saw headlights heading toward my door," said the 23-year-old employee of a medical testing company. "As soon as I saw the headlights coming, I ran in the opposite direction."

She ran upstairs, screaming to wake up her sleeping fiance, Scott Humbert, 32.

A 1997 green Lincoln had careered down a nearby hill, through the chain-link fence in the rear of her home, across a dividing fence and into her neighbor's back door.

Inside the car, a 37-year-old Anne Arundel County man lay dead with a single gunshot to the head, police said.

Harry Gillespie of the 2600 block of April Dawn Way in Gambrills was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said Gillespie was shot a few minutes before the crash in the 800 block of Glade Court, about a block away, and the car went down a hill and into the house in the 4100 block of Sixth St.

Maryland section, Thursday

Anne Arundel

Police shootings in the spotlight

On TV or in the movies, police trying to stop the bad guy routinely aim for the knees or shoulder and pull the trigger. Action heroes can even shoot a suspect's hand to make him drop his weapon.

Reality is quite different. Police officers who make the split-second decision to fire their weapons are trained to direct their fire toward the largest part of the human body: the upper torso.

After the fatal police shooting this month of a mentally ill, scissors-wielding teenager in Anne Arundel County, law enforcement officers are defending the necessity of that widely used policy.

Some public safety experts and members of the community, however, are asking whether its being legal makes it right -- especially when the victim isn't a fleeing criminal but someone who is clearly psychologically troubled.

"These tragic shootings of people with mental illness may be legally justified because of the narrow and limited questions the law asks," David Rocah, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said. "But they are not unavoidable."

In the past year, Anne Arundel County police have shot four people -- three of them mentally unstable, including a naked, unarmed man.

In the most recent case, police say Justin J. Fisher, 18, of Glen Burnie was suicidal when he charged at them early May 14 with the scissors. Four officers opened fire, shooting the Salisbury University freshman five times in the upper body.

Maryland section, Tuesday

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