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Baltimore Police identify officers in shooting of armed man experiencing behavioral crisis

Baltimore Police officers shoot man after responding to behavioral crisis in Northeast Baltimore.

Baltimore Police identified the officers involved in Wednesday morning’s shooting of an armed man who was experiencing a behavioral crisis, leaving him in critical condition in a local hospital.

Officers Eduardo Ortiz-Delvalle and Avery Torand of the Northeast District discharged their weapons, striking the 33-year old man multiple times, during a pre-dawn call to a home in the 5800 block of Falkirk Road in Northeast Baltimore, according to a police statement released Friday.

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The owner of the home, a relative of the man in distress, had placed a 911 call to report that the man was experiencing a crisis and that he had been diagnosed previously with paranoid schizophrenia, police said.

After the officers arrived at about 3:25 a.m., the homeowner led them to the basement, where police say the two were speaking with the individual in distress, attempting to de-escalate the situation, when he pulled out a handgun and pointed it at them.

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Neither Ortiz-Delvalle, a member of the Baltimore police force since May 2017, nor Torand, who has been on the force since May 2019, has been involved in previous shootings, and neither was injured in the incident, according to Det. Donny Moses, a spokesman for the department.

The officers immediately rendered aid to the victim, and medics arrived to transfer him to a local hospital, where he remains in critical but stable condition, according to the statement.

Police are not permitted to release the man’s name because the incident is “considered a medical issue,” Moses said.

“We were there for a behavioral issue. We as an agency have to abide by HIPAA [privacy] laws,” he added.

The Baltimore Police Department’s Special Investigation Response Team and homicide unit are investigating the incident, and the department has set its body-worn camera review protocol in motion.

Moses said footage of the incident is under departmental review, and Police Chief Michael Harrison has five days to decide whether to recommend whether it be released it to the public.

Amid the nationwide demonstrations against police violence following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, advocates for improved social services said this week that the shooting is the latest example of why people in mental distress need medical help, not a police response.

Money should be re-allocated from the police budget, they say, to reinvest in other resources, including alternative responses for behavioral health crises.

Sergio España, ACLU of Maryland’s director of engagement and mobilization, said a “disturbingly familiar pattern” has emerged in Maryland, “where officers called to assist someone in mental distress instead trigger a crisis, failing to see the person’s humanity and shooting instead of helping.”

Nearly 40% of the 109 people killed by police in Maryland between 2010 and 2014 “presented in a way that suggested a possible medical or mental health issue, disability, substance use or similar issue,” according to a 2015 study released by the ACLU of Maryland.

The ACLU is among 60 groups in Maryland demanding that state legislators repeal the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, which provides protections to police officers in use-of-force cases, and place the Baltimore Police, a state agency, back under the full control of the city, España said.

Mike Mancuso, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, which represents rank-and-file Baltimore Police officers, did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

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Baltimore Sun reporters Colin Campbell and Lillian Reed contributed to this report.

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