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Man shot by Baltimore police in Curtis Bay lifted gun at officer first, body camera footage shows

Police body camera footage released displays scenes from recent incidents involving officers in pursuit of suspects at Curtis Bay, Wildwood Parkway and Harford Road. (Video courtesy Baltimore City Police Department)

The 23-year-old man shot by police during a foot chase Tuesday night through Curtis Bay had pointed a gun at an officer at close range before he was shot, according to area surveillance and officer body camera footage released by police Thursday.

"The officer basically hits the deck when he sees that gun raised at him," said police spokesman T.J. Smith, referring to footage from two angles showing the officer closing in on the suspect in an open parking lot, the suspect turning and raising the gun, and the officer slipping backward to the ground as he opened fire.

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Smith said police still were not sure when during the chase the man was shot. The footage shows the officer who fell get up and continue chasing the man into an alley, where he and other officers open fire.

The man, who has not been publicly identified, jumped into a getaway car at the end of the chase before being found at a local hospital, police said.

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Police have located shell casings from the gun they believe the man was using, but not the gun, Smith said.

The man remained in critical condition Thursday, though his condition was improving, Smith said. The officers have not been identified.

In addition to the footage from the Curtis Bay incident, police also released body camera footage Thursday from two other incidents in which police officers fired their weapons but did not strike anyone.

One video showed an officer open fire on a vehicle on June 17 in the 700 block of Wildwood Parkway in Edmondson Village as the vehicle reversed in the officer's direction. "Don't move!" the officer screams after firing twice at the car, which then speeds off. The officer has not been identified.

Smith said the officer's actions were justified by the cirumstances. The shooting followed a chase in which one suspect had crashed into a police vehicle and other vehicles, and then got into another vehicle — the one the officer shot at — that struck another car on Wildwood. One officer and two civilians were injured during the chase.

Another video showed an officer open fire Tuesday morning on an alleged armed robbery suspect inside a Harford Road liquor store. Smith that noted a second armed suspect was also in the store at the time and the officer, identified as Officer Jamaal Johnson, a 16-year veteran, was reacting quickly to a threat.

In the video, Johnson enters the store at Harford and Moravia roads and immediately confronts the alleged robbers. "Get down! Get the f— down! Get down before I shoot your bitch a—!" he screams.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis defended the use of firearms by the officers in each of the incidents, saying the footage showed "Baltimore police officers running toward danger — knowingly running toward danger."

He thanked the officers for "their bravery, their courage, their dedication to duty."

Each of the officers is on routine administrative duty pending investigations into the incidents.

Police officers have shot two other men this year, killing both.

In one, also during a foot chase, the suspect, Curtis Deal, 18, also raised a gun at the officer. In another, the suspect, Reno Owens Jr., 39, had two children at knifepoint and was shot by a SWAT officer during a standoff.

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Footage has been shown in each of the incidents, though police only allowed members of the media to view the footage in the Owens case because of its gruesomeness and the potential impact of its being posted online on the two small children who were being held hostage by Owens.

Davis said showing the footage is fulfilling a promise by the department to be transparent. And he said having the footage will help police prove what happened in incidents in which they intend to press charges.

On Wednesday, a jury acquitted a man who had been shot by police last November of all serious charges, after the man's defense attorney argued that police had planted a gun on him. The shooting was not captured on body cameras.

Davis said he was "very disappointed" by the verdict, because he believes the man did have a gun. Body cameras will help avoid similar verdicts in the future, he said.

"A talented criminal defense attorney, without body-worn camera footage, will simply make the same old, same old, tired allegations that the police planted a gun," Davis said. "This technology will hopefully take that off the table."

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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