No criminal charges will be filed against a Baltimore County police officer who in April shot and wounded a passenger when he fired into a car-theft suspect's moving vehicle, prosecutors say.
The county state's attorney's office told police this week they found the April 21 shooting in the Milford Mill area to be legally justified.
Police have said 23-year-old Dejuan Owens was driving in a stolen Honda with three women as passengers. They said he fled police who tried to stop him in the area of Liberty and Milford Mill roads, then rammed multiple vehicles.
In a May 22 letter to county police, Deputy State's Attorney Robin S. Coffin said Owens' driving "resulted in grave danger for all officers and civilians on the roadway."
"At the point Officer Trussell fired his weapon he was in the pathway of being struck by the vehicle driven by Owens," Coffin wrote. "The suspect had already rammed two police vehicles and three civilian vehicles."
He struck three more civilian vehicles and a police vehicle after the shooting, Coffin wrote.
Owens, who was not shot, was indicted on more than 20 charges, including first-degree assault, theft, and resisting arrest. He does not have an attorney listed in court records.
Police had previously only identified the officer by his last name — a practice used through an agreement between the county and the police union — but he is identified as Bryan Trussell in the letter.
The shooting was captured by the body camera of another officer at the scene, but Trussell's camera was not turned on. In a statement to investigators, Trussell said the device kept beeping and its LED light was not working normally while he was en route to the scene. He said he believed it was malfunctioning and turned it off.
The state's attorney office does not publicly release footage in cases where someone is awaiting trial, as Owens is. However, the office allows media outlets to view the footage.
A police spokeswoman said Trussell is back on duty.
According to charging documents in the case, the three women in the car said Owens was supposed to be helping their friend move to a new apartment, and was giving them a ride. When Owens began ramming cars, the woman in the front seat pleaded with him to let them out, "kicking the windshield to convince him to stop the car," police wrote in the charging documents.
None of the women were charged in connection with the incident.
Trussell, who was hired in 2011, was involved in one previous shooting — the 2015 fatal shooting of 16-year-old Jason C. Hendrix in Essex. Hendrix was wanted in the homicides of his parents and sister in Kentucky. County police said at the time that the six officers, including Trussell, shot at Hendrix when gunfire came from his vehicle after a high-speed pursuit. The shooting was ruled legally justified by prosecutors.