Police were on an undercover sting targeting a man in a marijuana case in Anne Arundel County when one officer accidentally shot a colleague, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
The suspect had already been arrested outside a home in Odenton on Monday afternoon when officers on a multi-jurisdictional task force raided the residence in the 100 block of Pinecove Ave. Police found a female occupant, described as cooperative, and spread out through the house.
Authorities said a Baltimore County officer accidentally fired his gun, striking a city officer in the arm. On Tuesday, Anne Arundel County police said for the first time that the city officer returned fire with several shots, but did not hit anyone. The wounded officer was treated and released from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Few other details were made public. Police in the city, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties refused to release the names of the officers involved, saying the case remained under investigation. Baltimore police policy is to release names of officers involved in shootings within 48 hours of an incident. A spokesman declined to do so in this case, calling the incident a "discharging" instead of a shooting.
Anne Arundel County police spokesman Justin Mulcahy said in a statement that the city officer opened fire at a "perceived threat." A Baltimore Sun reporter visiting the house on Tuesday noticed four bullet holes in a wall near stairs separating two levels of the first floor.
Mulcahy said the officers were in the process of "securing the residence" when the shooting occurred, which means they would most likely have had their weapons drawn as they went room to room to make sure no one else was there before beginning a comprehensive search.
The target of the operation was Vernon Andre Jackson, 38, who lives in the 5400 block of Cedar Lane in Columbia. He is a federally convicted drug felon whose nine-year sentence in 2003 was reduced after revisions to crack-cocaine sentencing guidelines. He was released in January 2009, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Police began investigating the latest case after postal authorities intercepted a suspicious package in Prince George's County on Dec. 5. It had been sent to the Pinecove Avenue address from an address in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Court charging documents say that a police dog named Shadow detected drugs and police opened the package to find 27 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $244,000. Police said they resealed the package with some of the marijuana and delivered it on Monday to the house in Odenton.
An officer dressed as a deliveryman took the package to the house, according to court documents, and it was signed for by the female occupant. Police watched the house until the suspect arrived and went inside. Officers arrested him when they said he emerged with the package and put it in the trunk of his 2006 Infiniti.
Members of the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force then obtained a warrant to search the house and went inside.
The front storm door to the house was damaged and an interior sliding glass door was shattered. The female occupant, who said she was too scared of reprisals to reveal her name, said she was not close to the shooting but described herself as terrified of the gunfire.
The woman said she knew nothing about drugs. Federal authorities have said in the past that drugs are routinely shipped from the West Coast to the East Coast, usually using fictional names and return address that do not exist. Postal inspectors routinely intercept packages, federal court records show.
The woman, an invalid, described the suspect as a friend of the family's who routinely checked up on her. She said she did not see the shooting but repeatedly told officers no one else was in the home. Police said they had to make sure.
Mulcahy said an investigation into the friendly-fire shooting continues. The Baltimore County officer has been put on routine administrative leave. The suspect, Jackson, was charged with possession of marijuana and possessing drugs with intent to distribute.
He was released on $15,000 bail early Tuesday. He could not be reached for comment.