Outrage at video showing disdain for wounded man

December 13, 2008|By a Baltimore Sun reporter

Mayor Sheila Dixon voiced renewed outrage yesterday over a videotape that shows a man wounded by gunfire and lying on the floor of a Northeast Baltimore Chinese carryout while customers laugh and step over him to get their food.

The surveillance video, which city prosecutors are using in their case against two suspects, gained attention Wednesday at a public monthly meeting of Baltimore law enforcement officials. Dixon talked about the disturbing scenes while pressing her case for changes in the criminal justice system.

"I was just floored," she told the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which includes judges, the state's attorney and the police commissioner. "People came in to get orders ... business as usual. ... There's clearly mentally disturbed individuals in this city."

Yesterday, after the Baltimore Examiner and YouTube posted the video on the Internet, Dixon's office issued a statement noting a reduction in city violence but acknowledging that the city has a long way to go in addressing its long-standing crime problems.

"This video is an unfortunate reminder that we must treat some violent juveniles as adults in the criminal justice system," Dixon's statement says. "This clearly reflects a dire need for the community to renew our commitment to youth."

At Wednesday's meeting, Dixon said too many criminal suspects are being released onto the streets. "I know there's more to it, but as a layperson, you've got to show me why this is happening," she said.

State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy suggested studying ways to blend juvenile and adult sentences for an individual as a way to ensure justice for some charges that merit adult court and others that should be handled in a different way.

The shooting occurred in August during what appeared to be a robbery. Prosecutors charged Darren Brown and David Jefferson, both 17, as adults with attempted first-degree murder and handgun violations. The video shows two young women leaning against a wall and laughing as others reach over the wounded man to pick up orders from the counter.

Prosecutors showed the video at a hearing in Baltimore Circuit Court on Dec. 1 to determine whether the suspects should remain charged as adults. The judge ruled that their cases would remain in the adult system.

In 1998, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke rode with city police officers who responded to a call for a man shot four times in the back. "A friend of his comes along and looks down," Schmoke said then. "And he doesn't say to the police or to me, 'How's he doing?' He says, 'What are you-all going to do with that boy's cigarettes?' That is showing no regard for human life."

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