Baltimore police disclose three unknown investigations

The incidents were released on a 'use of force' list of internal investigations

June 14, 2014|By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun

An initiative by Baltimore police to publicly disclose all cases under internal review in which officers used serious or deadly force has revealed at least three incidents that were not previously disclosed.

This week, the Police Department announced that it will post online a continuous log of all investigations into incidents such as police shootings or deaths during arrests. The list, available on the department's home page, is designed to improve transparency and public accountability, Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said.

The 15 cases on the list Friday included fatal shootings by officers, Taser discharges such as those linked to the death of a 19-year-old patient at Good Samaritan Hospital and allegations of police pursuits.

One of those investigations involved a review into the crash that killed 12-year-old Shanizya Taft on May 27, an incident police have repeatedly said did not involve a pursuit.

On that night, police say, plainclothes Special Enforcement Section officers spotted a stolen car and followed until the sedan sped away and drove into an East Baltimore intersection. The car, a white Ford Fusion, collided with a minivan carrying Taft, her mother and a sister. Taft was killed; the two others were injured.

Police have maintained that the officers did not chase or pursue the Ford. They say the driver — a man since charged in two homicides — evaded police before they could initiate a traffic stop.

Now, a "Force Investigation Team" within the department will review such cases. At the end of each review, team members will write a summary and make policy recommendations if they believe any are necessary. Reviews could take several months, police say.

While most of the cases on the force-review list had been previously known, including all of the listed officer-involved shootings this year, the details or summaries of three cases had not been previously released by police.

They include a Jan. 26 incident in which police used a Taser in the 300 block of Ballou Court in Southeast Baltimore. A March 26 incident involving a vehicle in Northeast Baltimore is also under investigation; it took place in the 4200 block of Anntana Ave. And on April 4, an incident described as a "fall/head injury" took place in the 1700 block of Darley Ave. in East Baltimore.

Details about those cases, including identifications of the officers involved and the people they encountered, were not available on Friday.

Baltimore police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyk said officials from the Force Investigation Team were not available because they were investigating a Friday incident that will be added to the list: the fatal shooting of a steer by an officer after the animal had escaped a West Baltimore slaughterhouse and evaded capture for two miles.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

jgeorge@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/justingeorge

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