Officer previously shot four men

Prior shootings found justified as city officer faces investigation into new fatal shooting

September 01, 2007|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,Sun reporter

The Baltimore police officer who shot and killed a man during a struggle for his service weapon on a Northwest Baltimore street early Thursday had previously shot four people, including one man fatally in 1994, according to department records.

All four previous shootings were ruled justified, a Police Department spokesman said yesterday. The latest incident is under investigation.

The officer was identified yesterday as Arthur Lee Edmondson Jr., a 19-year veteran assigned to the Northwestern District.

Paul M. Blair Jr., president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, said some police officers, in a city as violent as Baltimore, use their weapons more often than others.

"It depends a lot where you've worked over the years," Blair said. "It depends on what neighborhood you're in."

Before Thursday, the last time Edmondson had been involved in a shooting was 1994. His attorney at the time, Henry L. Belsky, told The Sun: "As a human being, he's been in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a police officer who's trying to protect us, he's been in the right place at the right time."

In Thursday's shooting, Edmondson responded about 4:40 a.m. to a 911 call for a disabled vehicle after a "road rage" incident in the 3500 block of Liberty Heights Ave.

The department's preliminary investigation showed that Edmondson ordered the man out of the car. When the man got out of the car, he struggled with the officer for his gun, which was in his holster, police said.

During the struggle, Edmondson called for help on his radio as another officer, Smith Durant, arrived on the scene. Moments later, Edmondson fired at the man, striking him at least once, according to police.

A civilian witness told police that the man fought with the officers, according to Sterling Clifford, a Police Department spokesman.

Police identified the man who was killed as Tony L. Thompson, 21, who lived about four blocks away in the 3200 block of N. Hilton St.

Clifford said investigators with the state medical examiner's office found crack cocaine in Thompson's pockets during a search of his body. They also found $170 in cash, he said.

According to court records, Thompson had been charged with drug possession last year and served a year of probation that ended Aug. 25.

Police said Edmondson injured his wrists and Durant hurt his thigh during the fight. Both officers are on administrative duties pending the outcome of an internal investigation, which is routine in police-involved shootings.

In March 1994, Edmondson fatally shot a suspected drug dealer during an early-morning struggle for the officer's gun in a dark alley in East Baltimore.

The Sun reported then that police said Maurice Smith, 36, had struggled with Edmondson for his gun when the officer shot him in the abdomen.

The article also noted that a month earlier, Edmondson was investigating a domestic disturbance when he shot a man who pushed him down a flight of steps. That man suffered a graze wound to his left forearm.

On March 15, 1993, Edmondson was moonlighting as a security guard at Reisterstown Road Plaza when he heard gunshots coming from the south end of the mall. He found an 18-year-old man crouching behind a wall with a handgun, The Sun reported in the 1994 article.

When the man turned toward Edmondson with the gun and did not drop the weapon as ordered, the officer shot him in the leg, police said then.

On Aug. 12, 1992, Edmondson shot a robbery suspect in the right leg on North Broadway. Police said at the time that the officer was investigating a robbery when he confronted the man and ordered him to lie on the ground. Police said Edmondson shot the man during a fight for his gun.

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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