Police Overreacted, Wife Says

Man Who Was Shot Is Recovering

Wife Calls Arundel Officers' Conduct 'Outrageous'

July 17, 2009|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

An Anne Arundel County woman and her attorneys say police overreacted when officers' efforts to check on her - at the request of hospital staff - led to her husband's shooting.

Michael Housley, 51, is recovering at Maryland Shock Trauma Center from gunshot wounds to the jaw, neck and shoulder after a confrontation with officers Sunday in his home.

"It is outrageous," said Leah Housley, 44, his wife, who was barred from seeing her husband, who was in critical condition, for several days. "He is the victim."

"This time of year is the height of the marina business. There is tremendous financial loss," said Michael F. Gilligan, whose law firm represents Michael Housley, owner of a boat repair and detailing business. "Look what they did to him. They Tasered him, and they pepper-sprayed him and they shot him twice, and now they are going to charge him?"

Pending are two counts of assault and one count each of resisting arrest and failure to obey a lawful order.

The shooting, the third by Anne Arundel officers in two weeks, is under investigation. The officer who shot Housley was placed on administrative duty, which is routine, said Lt. James Fredericks, a department spokesman. The officer's name has not been released.

Fredericks said officers were responding to medical concerns and do not need a warrant to enter a house if they suspect an emergency.

"It goes to a medical need," he said. "The officers know they were there for valid reasons."

The events occurred Sunday after Leah Housley left Anne Arundel Medical Center's emergency room without being discharged, raising concerns about whether she left with an IV in her arm.

Dawn Merino, an attorney with Gilligan's firm, said the situation was handled poorly from the start, when Michael Housley answered a call advising him that police wanted to check on Leah Housley. "If they feared for her safety when they called, why didn't they ask to put her on the phone?" Merino said.

Citing patient confidentiality, hospital officials would not say why they asked police to go to the Housley home, and they would not discuss their policies and practices for such a request.

Leah Housley said her husband asked that police call before arriving so the couple could confine their Labrador retriever. But officers didn't call, she said.

Leah Housley said that when police arrived, the dog came out, soon followed by her husband.

According to police, he became belligerent, insisted that they leave and assaulted them.

Leah Housley said her husband told police to leave when they did not show documentation but instead asked to see her. In the house, he called 911 to say police assaulted him. Officers, still outside, were kicking the kitchen door and Leah Housely called out to them that she would come out as she dealt with the dog, she said.

"I put the dog in the bathroom. I was about to close the door, and it was like a bomb going off, and there was glass [from the kitchen door] everywhere," she said.

Leah Housley said she couldn't see all the commotion, but she heard her husband cry out, apparently after he was pepper-sprayed and jolted with a Taser. "Then all of a sudden I heard gunshots," she said.

"What officers will do is try various levels of force, nonlethal, to try to subdue someone," Fredericks said. Housley had raised a chair over an officer who was on the floor, and another officer shot Housley because he feared for his partner's safety, Fredericks said.

But Leah Housley said her husband appeared to be trying to protect himself with the chair.

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