Prosecutors in Baltimore have cleared a city police officer of wrongdoing in the shooting death of an armed robbery suspect at a 7-Eleven store in October, saying his actions were justified given the threat the man posed to the officer and nearby citizens.
Officer Kevin Amy, a 17-year veteran of the police force assigned to the Northeast District, pulled up to the convenience store in the 6000 block of Harford Road in the city’s Westfield neighborhood on Oct. 16 just as 20-year-old Eric Garrison was holding up the store with a shotgun, authorities said.
Garrison left the store with the shotgun in hand, authorities said. Amy shot Garrison twice.
Police quickly released footage from Amy’s body camera and from store surveillance cameras that showed the robbery in progress and the shooting. Then-Commissioner Kevin Davis said Amy had done “a great, great job” and showed “presence of mind and grace under pressure.”
The decision by prosecutors not to file charges against Amy was outlined in a 20-page report released by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby’s office on Tuesday. The report includes accounts of the incident from four civilian witnesses and three police officers who arrived shortly after the shooting.
A woman who had placed items on the store counter told investigators that Garrison called her “Shorty” and instructed her to “Grab your stuff.” When she took the items, she said, he took money from her.
Then, she said, Garrison saw Amy pull up, cocked his shotgun and warned her: “You better get out of here.”
The woman told investigators she feared for her life. She worried Garrison might shoot her as she ran out of the store. She said she heard Amy say “Put it down, don’t move! Put it down, don’t move!” before opening fire.
The store clerk told investigators that Garrison wore a mask, pointed a gun at him, handed him a paper bag and ordered him to open the register and give him the money. Then Garrison saw Amy out front and said “Oh my God.”
Prosecutors said Amy likely fired eight shots from his weapon. Garrison did not fire his weapon, which was not loaded. Police said the gun appeared to be the same weapon — with white tape covering its handle — that had been used in several other robberies.
In the video from the 7-Eleven incident, Garrison appeared to have the gun mostly at his side, pointed toward the ground, as he ran out of the store. Police suggested Garrison’s gun had been directed toward Amy.
Prosecutors concluded that “based on the position of [Garrison’s] right shoulder and arm, it appears the suspect exits the store with the firearm in his right hand which is pointing toward the officer.”
Based on its review, Mosby’s office concluded it was “objectively reasonable” for Amy to conclude that “his safety and the safety of the two other civilians were imminently at risk of death or serious bodily injury leading him to protect himself and the civilians by utilizing force.”
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said Tuesday that the case “highlighted the danger that officers find themselves in” while working in Baltimore. He said Amy was “left with no alternative as he confronted the armed man” and acted “quickly and decisively.”