A 56-year-old man who drove around a police roadblock was injured Friday after an officer shot at his back window, causing him to lose control of his pickup truck and crash off Interstate 83 in Hampden, police said.
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said that he was concerned about the shooting and that investigators are trying to determine why the officer fired the shot after the vehicle was heading away from him.
The driver, who was not identified, was injured either by broken glass or bullet fragments, police said. His injuries were not deemed life-threatening.
The incident unfolded just after 1 p.m. An officer, whom Bealefeld identified as a 25-year veteran and member of the traffic accident investigation unit, had blocked off the ramp to I-83 at West 28th Street as part of a traffic detail to allow a wide-load vehicle to pass through.
"Our guy was in uniform, in a marked car, and tried to stop the man from going around the police car," Bealefeld said. "But at some point the officer fired a shot through the rear window of the truck."
The driver continued on I-83 but exited at Falls Road and lost control of his vehicle, crashing into a wall, Bealefeld said. He was taken to an area hospital for treatment.
The department's general orders state that "lethal force can only be applied when it is necessary to protect the lives of citizens and police officers, or to prevent serious bodily injuries."
Robert F. Cherry, the president of the city police union, said it would generally not be justifiable to shoot at a vehicle that is driving away. But he said investigators will determine whether there were other circumstances that contributed to the shooting.
As with all police-involved shootings, the officer was placed on administrative suspension, and homicide detectives were investigating the incident.
"We have concerns," Bealefeld said. "I've been speaking throughout the day with the chief of [criminal investigations], who was on the scene. … We have a very good investigative team up there trying to get to the bottom of it."
Asked about the crash victim, Bealefeld said he had a minor criminal record and had been shot in recent years during a robbery of a cab.
If police determine that the driver was struck by a bullet, it would be the eighth shooting by city police officers this year, three of which have been fatal, according to The Baltimore Sun's records. Police say 24 people were shot by officers last year.
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