Officers cleared in fatal shooting of informant

City prosecutors find no evidence of criminal wrongdoing

April 06, 2011|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

City prosecutors have cleared two police officers of criminal wrongdoing in a March 2010 shooting in Northwest Baltimore that killed an unarmed police informant, according to a memo released by the office.

Donald J. Giblin, chief of the Baltimore state's attorney's homicide division, said in a letter dated March 16 that a review of evidence "supports the finding that the officers fired their weapons because they reasonably believed that they and/or others were in imminent danger of suffering great bodily harm or loss of life."

The Baltimore Sun reported last month that court documents show that officers made a phone call to Dennis Gregory asking where they could find his friend, Glenn Brooks. Gregory, referred to in other court papers as a "confidential informant," called back a few minutes later and told them Brooks was on a front porch in the 3700 block of Oakmont Ave.

When plainclothes officers Chris Funk and Matthew Ryckman approached the house from an alley, Brooks fired a gun at them, and they fired back. Gregory, who was unarmed, was shot several times and died of his wounds; his family contends that he was shot in the back. Funk was also wounded in the shooting.

Informed of the prosecutors' finding, Gregory's relatives said they were disappointed. They say police have refused to acknowledge their inquiries about the case, though prosecutors contacted them to set up a meeting after The Sun requested Giblin's letter.

"I'm not happy with that at all," sister Priscilla Johnson said of the prosecutors' decision. "A lot of people don't even believe he was an informant — that it's a lie the police put out."

Investigative documents from the case were not immediately available, and police have declined to answer questions about the case.

The department did not disclose that in the moments leading up to his death, Gregory was cooperating with authorities. Some news reports at the time pegged him as the one who had fired at the officers.

Though the investigation lagged for 13 months, the officers returned to duty about a month later.

Brooks, meanwhile, was sentenced to 19 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He had at least six previous convictions, including three drug convictions, robbery with a deadly weapon, battery and possession of a deadly weapon with intent to injure.

His attorney had argued that Brooks was "blind-sided" by the officers and had been on guard because a friend had been shot two days earlier. He did not know the men running toward him from an alley were officers, she said.

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