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Body camera footage of police shooting near UMB campus shown to media

Posted at 3:26 PM, Jul 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-03 16:37:36-04

Baltimore Police showed members of the media body camera footage from last Thursday’s shooting of a knife-wielding man near the University of Maryland medical campus in Baltimore at a press conference Tuesday. 

Shortly after 1 p.m., June 28, police were called to the behavioral health building at 701 W. Pratt Street for an individual armed with a knife, acting erratically, police spokesman T.J. Smith said after the incident Thursday. By 1:25 p.m. the call had changed to an officer involved shooting. Police said after trying to deescalate the situation, the 27-year-old man charged officers with the knife and a chair, used like a shield, before he was shot.

Police are currently not releasing the tape to the public, but in effort to promote transparency, Smith said, media members gathered at police headquarters to view the roughly 10 to 12 minute long clip that captures from when officers first engaged the suspect until his eventual shooting.

“This individual was in the throws of violence, extremely agitated,” acting Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said at Tuesday’s press conference. “The officers used an incredible amount of restraint throughout this encounter.”

From the footage, the three officers can be heard trying to engage the suspect, asking him to put the knife down and trying to talk with him. He refuses, inviting the officers to shoot him. 

“Shoot me yo, shoot me. I’m ready to die,” the suspect can be heard saying. 

The situation seems to ebb and flow, with officers trying to remain more even-keeled though at times raising their tone as things seems to grow tenser, frequently asking, then shouting, “drop the knife.” 

“When we arrived he was already very disturbed,” Tuggle said. “He was clearly disturbed before we got there.”

Police identified the two officers, both from a patrol unit in the Central District as Epifana Torres, a six-year veteran, and Officer Tankeisha Cokely, a five-year veteran.

Tuggle said the officers were closer than the “21-foot rule” they try to observe when encountering people armed with weapons like knives. When officers exchanged fire, two of the officers fired their service weapons, while a third shot a taser. 

“This area where this occurred was a relatively small space,” Tuggle said.

The man was shot in the upper body and leg, Smith said. He is in stable condition at a local hospital. 

“We’re dealing with some issues where the individual in this video will not be charged with some other medical issues that have been going on,” Smith said, stating the man is known to frequent the medical facility where he was shot.

Tuggle and Smith said the video would be used for training purposes by the police academy. The officers involved had received deescalation training and were trying to establish a rapport before shots were fired. 

“I don’t want to Monday morning quarterback the officers,” Tuggle said. “End of the day, they mitigated that situation as best they could.”