BALTIMORE — Baltimore Police on Thursday released body worn camera footage from a July 1 officer involved shooting.
A woman called officers to a home in the 5800 block of Falkirk Road, reporting that her son in-law was off his medication and going through a crisis.
Arriving officers spoke to the caller, who told them the man was with her daughter in the basement and may be armed.
The woman told police the man went through a similar situation on June 20, where he reportedly fired multiple gunshots at vehicles while naked, nearby.
Paramedics had arrived on scene seconds after police, but decided to remain outside of the home over concerns the man could be armed.
As officers enter the home, the body camera picks up audio of the man downstairs arguing loudly with his wife.
The man is heard saying someone is trying to hurt and kill him.
Police head downstairs at which point the man says his wife tried poisoning him. The man then begins talking about the officers on scene, and how they're gonna try and kill him in real life in front of the cameras.
He then threatens an officer telling him "if I kill you inside my house it’s legal yo you gonna die inside my house."
Meanwhile, the officer replies calmly to the man from a distance through a doorway of another room, "I’m peaceful okay, if you’re peaceful lets go upstairs."
For several minutes without drawing any weapons, the officer continues trying to figure out what the man's concerns are while also trying to convince him that police are there to help and not hurt him.
Police again ask the man if he wants to go upstairs to be checked out by paramedics, for which he quickly refuses. The man begins to put his hands in his pockets when the officers ask him to keep them visible.
At this point officers and the man are speaking from inside the same crowded room in the basement.
As the incident unfolds, the man pulls a gun from his right pocket, and clearly lifts and extends his arms aiming at the officers.
Next thing you see and hear in the video is officers firing multiple shots, injuring the man.
A second gun was later found in the man's pocket. A search and seizure warrant resulted in several other guns being recovered from the home, at least two of which were registered, according to police.
Commissioner Michael Harrison confirmed the man's involvement in the June 20 incident, and said it happened on Loch Raven Boulevard.
In that case, Harrison says police took him for an emergency medical evaluation without further incident.
A gun was recovered that day and was found to be registered to the man. Police however said they had no address at the time to conduct a follow-up investigation, and that it was a different caller who made the report. The department was also unaware if the man had been diagnosed with any mental disorder.
Harrison said an internal investigation into the shooting is ongoing. The man has been charged with assault, but he remains hospitalized in stable condition. His name is currently being withheld over HIPPA laws.
After reviewing the footage, City Council President Brandon Scott issued a statement which differed from his initial one immediately following the incident.
From the footage, you can see that a medic was already on site and that BPD officers were there in response to the 911 call, which identified the person as possibly armed. I want to commend the responding officers for their efforts to deescalate the situation and for their willingness to continue to put their own lives at risk to respond to the needs of our residents. This incident is an illustration of how tense and sometimes dangerous the work of our police and first responders can be, especially when guns are involved. It also demonstrates how seriously we have to take the work of reimagining public health and safety in our city.
Following the incident, questions have been raised as to why no mental health professional responded to assist in deescalating in hopes of preventing such an outcome.
The Behavioral Health System of Baltimore released the following statement in response.
The incident highlights gaps in and missed opportunities to utilize resources of our behavioral health system, which all too often relies on police rather than clinician responses to these crises.
Unfortunately, these types of incidents are not new or rare. While focus in this incident has been on the police response, the solution must go beyond policing. We often take for granted our emergency response system - police, fire, and hospitals - to address these issues, but often they are not best suited for that specialized task. There must be broader, systemic investment in behavioral health crisis services and the other services people need. This is a shared obligation of the city and the state. Maryland's system has been under-valued and under-resourced for too long.
To reduce police interactions with people in behavioral health crisis, we must have a comprehensive behavioral health system that includes robust crisis services to ensure that people get the care they need at the exact time they need it. Behavioral health crisis response services are an essential component of an effective emergency response system. Without them, people end up unnecessarily calling the police and using emergency medical services and hospitals. When used, Baltimore's behavioral health crisis response system has helped countless Baltimoreans overcome potentially life-threatening crises.
Clearly there is still work to be done. We need to make sure mental health professionals are involved when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis in the community. Currently, behavioral health crisis services are not valued as part of emergency response, as evidenced by the limited resources to support a robust system. We have to work together with the full support and input from many stakeholders-the city and the state, Behavioral Health System Baltimore, hospitals, police, community-based providers, service recipients and their families, and many others-or our system will continue to fail the people it is trying to serve.
This incident is an opportunity for Baltimore and Maryland to re-evaluate how we support the behavioral health and wellness of all people and the communities in which they live. Moving forward, we have to do better, and BHSB is committed to working with the city, the Baltimore Police Department, and other stakeholders to improve the system of care.
Watch the entire police press conference below.