Baltimore police say they can't confirm or debunk Dr. Ben Carson's Popeye's robbery story

"It absolutely could have happened," police spokesman says of Carson's robbery story

Baltimore police said Thursday they can't locate a police report in which Dr. Ben Carson was a victim in the robbery of a Popeye's -- but they're not saying the stick-up didn't happen.

Police released a 24-page letter to the media documenting their efforts to find the report, which included searches of four databases.

"No database search of any reports prior to 1987 can be run without a police report number," wrote Wayne Brooks, assistant to legal affairs for the department. "Hopefully, this explanation is satisfactory for our friends in the media and shows that the BPD has done a diligent search for reports of any incident involving Dr. Carson."

In an interview this month, Carson, a Republican presidential candidate and retired Johns Hopkins Hospital neurosurgeon, said he once got a gun stuck in his ribs in a Popeye's restaurant in Baltimore.

"Guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs, and I just said, 'I believe that you want the guy behind the counter,'" Carson said on Sirius XM Radio. "I redirected him. ... The resolution was, [the gunman] said, 'Oh, sorry,' and then he went to the appropriate person behind the register who gave him the money, and he left the store running before the police got there."

The comment garnered widespread attention in national media, and some questioned whether the story was true. 

On Thursday, Armstrong Williams, Carson's business manager, told The Sun he's heard Carson tell the story of the robbery for at least 10 years. 

He said the robbery occurred between 1980 and 1983, and that Carson doesn't believe police were called or took a report.

"There's no question that it happened," Williams said. "Obviously, if there’s no police report it would be shocking if they could find one. With all the problems going on in Baltimore, I don't know why anyone would waste their time on this."

TJ Smith, a spokesman for the police department, said the police department is not trying to debunk Carson's statement. It's merely responding to media requests.

"We’re not saying it did or didn’t happen," Smith said. "We can’t find a report based on the information we’ve gathered. It absolutely could have happened. We just don’t have the information to get that report."

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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