Officers responded to shots fired about 2:30 p.m. and found the victim lying on the sidewalk. He had been shot in the back and had sustained lacerations to his face and forehead. He was conscious but could not move and is being treated at an area hospital, police said.

Witness accounts of Anderson's death vary, and police are trying to sort fact from fiction.

Family members and others who claim they saw the incident say he was leaving the OK Liquor Store on East Biddle street when they observed plainclothes officers run up behind him and slam him to the ground. They say he went limp, and believe he already was dead when an ambulance picked him up.

In a particularly dramatic recounting, Gordon claimed that Anderson was raised in the air "as high as a basketball hoop" and thrown to the ground. Gordon said a crumpled and dying Anderson turned to his mother and said, "God has taken me now. My work here is done. Take care of my family."

Jennifer Cheese, 45, who passed through the vacant lot before the rally, said she saw officers grab Anderson from the back and "tussle with him a little bit." She said they handcuffed him and sat him upright, but that he was slumped over and unresponsive.

"They slammed him, but it wasn't on his head," said Cheese, who said she knew Anderson through a drug treatment program. "They're doing their job, but they took it over the top. That's too much aggression for one pill."

Quintin Harris, 53, who said he saw the incident and had given a statement to police, said Anderson was lifted off the ground, though not as high as Gordon's assessment, and then kicked. "It was messed up," Harris said.

The intersection at Biddle and Montford is often lively, with groups of people congregating on nearby front steps. The overgrown lot where Anderson died is thick with discarded liquor bottles. A woman who did not want to give her name due to safety concerns, said that the area is a known spot for buying heroin. Up the street, she said, is where "ready" — street slang for cocaine — is peddled.

Almost everyone lingering in the area said they had been victims of police brutality.

"They don't have no respect for nobody," said John Melton, 42. "They can do or say whatever they want."

A man who identified himself as Anderson's brother-in-law recalled Anderson's last moments alive. That morning, he said Anderson had visited his mother, and was delighted when a relative gave him a peach to eat. Later, he took his 2-year-old granddaughter to get ice cream.

Anderson struggled with drugs for years, according to those who knew him. Gordon said his drug use was intermittent, but relatives said that was irrelevant.

His children, Anthony Jr., 25, Yvonne, 24, and Jean, 21, said he was a good father who visited them at their grandmother's house every morning. They lost their mother 14 years ago, Jean Anderson said.

"He might use, but he don't sell them," Anthony Jr. said. "That doesn't give them no right to kill an individual."

Anderson's mother, Edith Fletcher, sat on a folding chair and sobbed through the rally, as Gordon called the case "one of the most egregious murders we've had in Baltimore City to date."

"I didn't want to come out here. I can see him laying there," Fletcher, 67, told a reporter, then turned to a daughter.

"I want to go, but they won't let me. Can I leave? Please take me in the house."

An earlier version of this story misidentified Anderson's mother. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts