Prosecutors have determined that Baltimore Police Maj. Byron Conaway, commander of the Southwestern District, was justified in shooting an unarmed man in the city's Morrell Park neighborhood in September.

"My office has concluded our investigation into that matter and declined to prosecute Major Byron Conaway, who reasonably believed that his safety was in danger given the totality of the victim's behavior," Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said in a brief statement Thursday. Therefore, she said, "his actions were legally justified in his use of force."


Mosby's statement, issued in response to questions about the case from The Baltimore Sun, did not say when Conaway was cleared. Documents from the investigation launched by Mosby's office, also requested by The Sun, were not provided.

T.J. Smith, a police spokesman, said the department received a letter from prosecutors last week stating that charges would not be filed against Conaway in the case. Conaway has since returned to full duty after having been on routine administrative duties during the investigation.

Conaway was on his way to a community meeting about 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 when he pulled over in his vehicle and stopped John Joseph Rau, 40, as Rau was walking in the 2400 block of Washington Boulevard. Police said Rau refused to show his hands on command, and Conaway fired once, striking Rau once in the leg. Rau was taken to a hospital, treated and released. He has not been charged with any crime in the incident.

Police never explained why Conaway stopped Rau on the street, and the few details police have provided have been hotly contested by members of Rau's family — including his 13-year-old nephew John DeVault Jr., who said he witnessed the shooting.

DeVault said his uncle was not resisting, and had a cigarette in one hand and lip balm in the other when Conaway jumped out of his vehicle with his gun drawn. The family also disputed the police assertion that Conaway immediately rendered aid to Rau and applied a tourniquet.

Neither Rau nor his family could be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Conaway was also involved in a shooting as an officer in 2009. A woman in a car slipped him a note that said she was in danger, and Conaway shot a man in the car after he reached for a handgun. The man survived and was sentenced in August 2010 to 15 years in federal prison for possessing a handgun as a felon. Conaway received the department's Bronze Star in 2014 for his actions.

In 2011, the city paid $67,500 to settle a claim made by Baltimore resident Terrell Perkins that Conaway and other officers beat him while interrogating him after the store where Perkins worked was robbed in 2007.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.