Driving violation led to shooting

Natural Resources officer killed man in confrontation on dock in Talbot County

August 03, 2006|By NICOLE FULLER | NICOLE FULLER,SUN REPORTER

A Maryland Natural Resources Police officer who fatally shot a waterman Monday morning in Talbot County was attempting to arrest the man for driving a car without a license, police said yesterday.

Fearing for his life after waterman Thomas S. Sherwood Jr. swung a bumper jack at him three times, Officer 1st Class Hubert F. Brohawn fired his service weapon several times, said Sgt. Ken Turner, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Police. Sherwood, 49, died at the scene. His family said he was shot three times in the chest.

The incident began in the town of Bellevue about 11 a.m. when Brohawn saw Sherwood driving on Bellevue Road and followed him to the dock on Tar Creek where the man lived on his boat, Turner said. Brohawn knew from previous contact with Sherwood that his license had been revoked, the spokesman added.

Once on the dock, Brohawn told Sherwood he was going to arrest him for driving without a license, but Sherwood continued to walk toward his boat, police said. Brohawn then called for backup assistance.

Sherwood got in his boat and attempted to flee, but Brohawn pulled on the vessel's lines, police said. According to police, Sherwood got out of his boat and swung the jack at Brohawn; after two more swings, Brohawn opened fire.

"Sherwood was going toward him, driving him to the end of the dock, so he couldn't go anywhere but into the water," Turner said.

Brohawn called for help and administered first aid to Sherwood, Turner said.

Yesterday's account provided more details about what prompted the shooting. Police had said previously that Brohawn was attempting to check Sherwood's catch of crabs - an assertion disputed by the waterman's family and friends.

"[Brohawn] was not checking catch," Turner said. "Mr. Sherwood was not out there crabbing."

Turner said Brohawn, a 4 1/2 -year veteran of the department, had never been the subject of an administrative investigation for alleged misconduct. He said it was not unusual for a Natural Resources Police officer to apprehend someone for a driving offense.

"What Officer Brohawn was doing is what any law enforcement officer can do out there," Turner said. "And he was in his jurisdiction. We check vessels and we also check vehicles."

The Natural Resources Police are conducting an investigation into Sherwood's death, assisted by the state police, he said.

Sherwood's father, Thomas S. Sherwood Sr., 73, said he is unhappy with the investigation and has retained an Easton lawyer to pursue civil action against Brohawn, who he said was harassing his son.

"That's a little unusual for the DNR to be chasing someone for a license violation," Sherwood said. "I know they can do that, but to kill someone?"

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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