BALTIMORE — Baltimore County has agreed to a $6.5 million settlement with the family of a man fatally shot by a police officer in November 2019.
The tragic night began when the mother of Eric Sopp called 911, fearing he was suicidal.
She told dispatchers that Sopp had drove away from the house drunk and wanted him found before he hurt himself or others.
Following the incident, Baltimore County Police released a 12 minute and 32 second long video covering the 911 call made by Sopp's mother, and the deadly interaction he would later have with police.
Sopp's mother told dispatchers how her son became violent when she tried taking his car keys, and described that he'd been looking for a knife and threatened to put an ice pick in his neck.
Later that night, officer Page spotted Sopp driving and pulled him over on southbound I-83 near Belfast Road.
Page's body worn camera footage shows him approaching Sopp's vehicle already with his gun drawn.
He knocks on Sopp's car asking multiple times to see his hands. After initially refusing, Sopp eventually places the car in park and unexpectedly gets out of the vehicle.
Within seconds the video shows Page shooting Sopp, killing him.
Sopp's family obtained attorneys Andrew D. Freeman and Chelsea J. Crawford who filed a lawsuit against Page and Baltimore County, alleging excessive force while noting the police department's history with officer involved shootings.
The legal team claimed that Page escalated the encounter with Sopp despite there being no indication he was armed.
“We are pleased that Baltimore County recognized the gravity and indefensibility of this case," said Crawford. "Mr. Sopp's family can now try to put this horrific incident behind them.”
Freeman said he hopes the settlement leads to Baltimore County reevaluating its crisis intervention training programs for police officers.
“Police everywhere, and especially in Baltimore County, need to learn to de-escalate encounters with people in distress. Meaningful change will only occur if the County strengthens its crisis intervention programs, provides mandatory training for all police officers, and hires additional crisis intervention personnel.”