Newly obtained records name Coppin State officer in fatal 2016 shooting

A year and a half has passed since a Coppin State University police officer shot and killed a teenage gunman at the edge of campus, and police — in a departure from routine — still haven’t offered up the officer’s name.

Their silence has resulted in continued speculation about the police shooting Dec. 13, 2016. The New York Times drew attention to the case this month in a five-part podcast that explored race and policing in Baltimore. Titled “Charm City,” the popular series centered on the death of Lavar “Nook” Douglas, 18, and his mother’s grief and quest for answers.

And yet, the officer’s identity remained unknown.

Investigative files obtained by The Baltimore Sun under a Public Information Act request identify him, for the first time, as Daniel Urbanowicz. The 29-year-old former Coppin State policeman did not return messages seeking comment.

A two-month investigation previously found him justified in opening fire, wrote Brian DeLeonardo, the Carroll County state’s attorney. His office served as outside investigators.

“The officer who discharged his weapon did so based upon a reasonable belief that Lavar Montray Douglas was an imminent danger of causing death or serious injury to the public,” DeLeonardo said in a statement last year.

Shortly before 7 p.m. that Dec. 13, Douglas emerged from a car stopped at Windsor Avenue and North Warwick Avenue at the east edge of campus in West Baltimore. Surveillance video captured him running into the intersection, shooting wildly at a passing car, then running back.

Urbanowicz happened to be driving an unmarked car directly behind Douglas. When the shooter ran back past him, Urbanowicz stepped out and opened fire, investigators wrote.

“His quick and lawful action very well could have saved lives that day,” DeLeonardo said.

Local police departments routinely identify officers in shootings. But investigators withheld Urbanowicz’s name because they were concerned for his safety, they wrote in the case file.

He no longer works for Coppin State Police, Chief Leonard Hamm said.

Hamm, who has praised the officer’s quick action, said he did not know when Urbanowicz left.

tprudente@baltsun.com

twitter.com/tim_prudente

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