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Deadly Force

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NEWS
April 22, 1993
The fatal shooting by a police officer of 14-year-old Simmont Donta Thomas is a tragedy.It is a tragedy for his family.It is a tragedy for Officer Edward T. Gorwell II, 24, a two-year member of the Baltimore police force, who fired the shot into the teen-ager's back as the youth fled from a stolen car early last Saturday in Gwynns Falls Park.And it is tragic for a city that would just like to close its eyes and then open them to find the ills of homicide and drugs and wasted youth gone. Lamentably, no one has come up with any more tangible antidote that can work fast enough.
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NEWS
By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun | August 22, 2014
The family of a man fatally shot by FBI agents conducing a surveillance earlier this year on Reisterstown Road is questioning police tactics and the finding by prosecutors that the use of deadly force during a car stop was justified. While relatives of Jameel Kareem Ofurum Harrison acknowledge that he had a criminal record, they deny police descriptions of him as a gang member, and say they didn't give him a chance to get out his car and surrender before firing 19 rounds, hitting the 34-year-old six times.
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NEWS
By Jeff Barker and Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF | March 27, 2001
Carroll County legislators have introduced a bill providing new legal protection to business owners in cases such as one this month in which two brothers are under investigation in the fatal shooting of a man during what police said was an attempted burglary of their Glyndon concrete business. The measure would shield owners from civil lawsuits for deadly force against someone "who unlawfully and forcefully enters" their business. It would not affect criminal prosecutions. Del. Carmen Amedori, a Carroll Republican, said yesterday the bill is in response to an incident in which a Baltimore man was killed and two Baltimore County men were wounded at Back River Supply Inc. Police said Matthew J. Geckle and Dominic A. Geckle were guarding the plant with shotguns after previous burglaries.
NEWS
August 4, 2014
I am disgusted by the not guilty verdict rendered in the case of New Jersey detective Joseph Walker, who shot and killed Joseph Harvey Jr. last year ( "N.J. officer not guilty of murder in Arundel road rage shooting," July 30). Clearly, Maryland law was not adhered to in this case. Mr. Walker is a detective in New Jersey. He was in Maryland attending a relative's birthday party with his family, so clearly he was not here on official business. Why was he carrying his gun? He was out of his jurisdiction and off-duty.
NEWS
By David Simon | March 14, 2002
HERE'S A fundamental truth about police work in America: In this country, only a law enforcement officer has the authority to use deadly force against fellow citizens in time of peace. As a well-armed society, we find it necessary to arm our law officers as a consequence and to accept that they will have to use those weapons as an act of personal deliberation. This is an extraordinary right. But on foot patrol, in a radio car, on drug raids or during car stops, there can be no body politic to deliberate such matters.
NEWS
By David G. Savage and David G. Savage,LOS ANGELES TIMES | May 1, 2007
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that police may use deadly force to stop a speeding motorist who ignores warnings and poses a danger to the public. In an 8-1 decision, the justices threw out a lawsuit brought by a Georgia teenager who sped away from police and led them on a high-speed chase down narrow, two-lane roads. The youth was paralyzed when a police cruiser rammed into the back of his car and sent it careening off the road. In a first for the court, the justices said they had decided the case based on watching a police videotape of the incident.
NEWS
By JOHN F. DOUGHERTY | August 24, 1997
I have spent 20 years in police work, and it has become readily apparent to me that police departments rely too heavily on the use of deadly force.This reliance begins at the police academy where recruits are taught to fire at faceless targets, which do not talk, sweat or bleed. Recruits are often rewarded for their marksmanship by being given a firearm, a plaque or a medal of commendation.Throughout their careers, officers receive more in-service training and qualification time with firearms than they do with communication skills and nonlethal use of weapons.
NEWS
By Joe Nawrozki and Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer | May 22, 1993
Baltimore Councilman Martin E. "Mike" Curran didn't see the gunman sneak up behind him.Mr. Curran and a television reporter, role-playing as police officers, were at the back door of a low-rise apartment building. A print journalist, acting as the primary officer, was entering the front door of the building where heroin transactions were being made.The participants in a unique crash course offered by the Baltimore Police Department on deadly force and weapons wouldn't learn until later that the simulation was modeled after a real-life incident in which Officer Gerald Martin was killed and another officer seriously wounded in an Oct. 10, 1989, ambush in a building in the 1500 block of Pennsylvania Ave.While Mr. Curran and the reporter staked out the back door, their team leader walked slowly into a darkened hallway.
NEWS
By Joe Nawrozki and Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer | April 20, 1993
The use of deadly force by Baltimore police is narrowly defined in a terse, single-sentence regulation that spells out when city officers can draw their guns and shoot.Essentially, the directive limits the use of deadly force to situations in which the life of an officer or another person is in danger or when a forcible felony is under way.But out on the street -- when officers confront suspects in circumstances beyond their control -- the rules are sometimes blurred by the anger, fear and pressure of a stressful situation.
NEWS
January 26, 1998
BALTIMORE CITY police shot and killed a woman Monday. They said it was unavoidable.Blanche H. Baker, 50, attacked officers with a knife. Pepper spray didn't stop her, so they fired their guns. Officers are trained to aim at an assailant's upper torso, because it provides a bigger target. They hit Ms. Baker at least twice; she died at Sinai Hospital.Ms. Baker, according to police who talked to relatives, was mentally ill. She had a record of run-ins with police, including a 1995 arrest for second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.
NEWS
By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun | July 28, 2014
Closing arguments are expected Tuesday in the trial of an off-duty New Jersey police officer accused of murdering a Lansdowne man following a road-rage incident last summer in Anne Arundel County During the final day of testimony in Circuit Court on Monday, two law enforcement experts offered opposite opinions as to whether Joseph Lamont Walker, 41, acted reasonably in shooting Joseph Dale Harvey Jr., 36, on the side of Route 3 near Interstate 97...
NEWS
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun | June 10, 2014
The Baltimore Police Department says it will begin to post a log of its investigations into serious use of force by officers online, and for the first time will ask the city's civilian review board to look at shootings involving its officers and deaths of people in custody. Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said the move was the latest in a series intended to improve transparency and accountability. "We have a responsibility to be as forthright and transparent as the law allows us to be, especially when it comes to our use of force," Batts told reporters Tuesday.
NEWS
By Justin George and Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun | September 5, 2013
Baltimore police identified the 25-year-old man Thursday who was fatally shot by officers in a Southeast Baltimore housing project, as people who said they saw the incident continued to question the decision to shoot. The shooting occurred just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, when police said they pursued Donte Bennett through a courtyard of Douglass Homes and past a playground, fighting with him before he took out a handgun and was shot. A top-ranking police official said that he was "proud of the work done by the officers" and that the man was violent.
NEWS
Dan Rodricks | July 15, 2013
It's a troubling and scary thing to consider, but my take-away from the trial of George Zimmerman is a very clear message that you can take up arms to protect yourself and use deadly force with the thinnest claims of self-defense and the fullest confidence that little, if anything, will happen to you. This will undoubtedly be true in about half of the country - in states that have enacted stand-your-ground laws in recent years. (Maryland is not one of them, yet.) Self-defense is a powerful defense, but in Florida and nearly two dozen other states.
NEWS
April 12, 2012
The arrest of George Zimmerman on charges of second-degree murder in the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin does not mean that justice has been done. But it does provide the opportunity for justice - for a full presentation of the facts before a judge and impartial jury. It was the denial of that opportunity by local officials in Sanford, Fla., who chose not to arrest Mr. Zimmerman immediately after the shooting six weeks ago, that had so inflamed the nation. It led to inevitable questions about whether race was a factor in how the case was handled - Trayvon was black, and Mr. Zimmerman is white and Hispanic - and to outrage at the notion that a young man could be killed without anyone being forced to publicly account for it. Now the Sanford community and the entire nation can get answers about what happened that day, and that is what our criminal justice system is supposed to do. Angela B. Corey, a special prosecutor brought in from Jacksonville to handle the case, said Wednesday evening that her decision to bring charges was not based on public pressure but on the evidence she had gathered.
NEWS
by Annie Linskey | March 26, 2012
Wearing hoodies, members of Maryland Legislative Black Caucus this afternoon called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to examine a Florida law that has become controversial in the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin. "We believe justice has not been served," said Sen. Catherine Pugh, a Baltimore Democrat who leads the Black Caucus. "We want people in the city, state and country to realize we have to be more culturally sensitive. " "You should not make assumptions because of what someone is wearing ... or the color of their skin," Pugh said.
NEWS
February 20, 1996
TESTY ATTITUDES by several police union officials about recent police shootings are understandable. Officers typically feel underappreciated as they daily encounter danger while protecting the law-abiding from criminal predators.But those who suggest the public need not ask pointed questions about these shootings are wrong. There can be no automatic assumption that every officer acts correctly in every situation. There can be no resistance to reviewing deadly force policies to see if rules should be changed.
NEWS
March 22, 2012
Nearly a month after an unarmed black teenager was shot to death by a neighborhood watch captain, police in Sanford, Fla., have yet to make an arrest. Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was returning from a convenience store near the house of his father's fiancee in a gated community Feb. 26 when watch leader George Zimmerman spotted him and called police to report a "suspicious" person. Moments later, Mr. Zimmerman confronted the teen - ignoring the dispatcher's advice not to follow the youngster - and shot him in the chest, apparently as Mr. Martin pleaded for his life.
NEWS
June 15, 2010
I agree with the judge's decision to hold Baltimore Police Officer Gahiji A. Tshamba without bail in the first degree murder of Tyrone Brown ("Officer 'did what he had to,' lawyer says," June 15). First of all, Mr. Tshamba was an off-duty cop who could have gone about this situation differently. Secondly, you have witnesses who were with Mr. Brown and two independent witnesses who stated that Mr. Brown obeyed Officer Tshamba's wishes when he drew his weapon. Mr. Brown's hands were in the air when Officer Tshamba began to fire 13 rounds, 12 of which struck Mr. Brown.
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