Family demands answers in police shooting

December 15, 2007|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,Sun reporter

The family of a man killed by police last week asked yesterday why it still hasn't received a written report on the shooting and said it is in the "beginning stages" of filing a complaint with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Relatives of Coby Brown, 23, said they have not received any response from police despite multiple requests for a full accounting of the Dec. 4 shooting in Upper Fells Point. They also question the use of such lethal force.

"We are left wondering what happened, how it happened and if it needed to happen," said Thomas K. Smith, Brown's stepfather, during a small rally at the shooting scene. "We want the truth."

Brown was shot by police after he robbed a Burger King in the 2000 block of Eastern Ave. in Fells Point, police said. Officers on foot patrol gave chase. Another officer pursued in a vehicle. Brown shot at the officers and then stopped in front of a house on Gough Street, police said.

When Brown pointed his gun at Officer Modesto A. Olivio Jr., police said, Olivio shot Brown in the stomach. Brown died the next day at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"This suspect made a choice when he pointed a loaded handgun at a police officer, and when he makes that choice, the officer is left with no choice," said police spokesman Sterling Clifford.

Members of Brown's family said they have not received any reports from police on the incident. Police spokesman Troy Harris said yesterday that a report on the shooting is not available, because the investigation is not complete. He said a report on the robbery should be available.

Family members also said they wonder why Olivio fired his weapon when other officers did not. Clifford said Brown pointed his gun at Olivio.

The rally was organized by the Baltimore branch of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement. Local Uhuru leaders criticized what they said is a policy by police to "shoot first and ask questions later" when dealing with African-Americans.

"I vehemently disagree with that," Clifford said. He said officers had no other option.

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