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‘My son is gone’: Family of Baltimore County man who died after police used Taser remember his life, search for answers

The family of an Owings Mills man who died after an encounter with Baltimore County police officers last month is still searching for answers, and still grieving.

Gamel Brown, 30, died from cardiac arrest at a local hospital Jan. 22 after officers used a Taser stun gun during the incident at his home, police said.

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Brown’s family members mourned their loss and celebrated his life at a service Wednesday in Baltimore. His mother, Marion Brown, said she still did not understand what happened to her son.

“He called for help. He called for help. And he’s gone, because they tased him,” Marion Brown said after the service. "He called for help, and my son is gone. And no one can tell me why.”

Family and loved ones held a funeral service for Gamel Brown Wednesday afternoon. Brown died in police custody after officers deployed a taser in Baltimore County a few weeks prior. 02-04-20
Family and loved ones held a funeral service for Gamel Brown Wednesday afternoon. Brown died in police custody after officers deployed a taser in Baltimore County a few weeks prior. 02-04-20(Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Sun)

Police initially said Brown “suddenly changed” and became “volatile and extremely combative” with officers.

But county police officials have not described the incident in detail and have refused to answer questions about what happened, citing the ongoing internal investigation. Police spokeswoman Ofc. Jennifer Peach. reiterated that position Wednesday evening.

The department has not said who called 911 or even if Brown was hit by the stun gun. Four Baltimore County police officers were placed on paid administrative leave following the incident.

Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said during a press conference that the department “will conduct a thorough investigation covering all aspects of the incident.”

County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. believes the body-worn camera footage should be released “after a thorough investigation,” his spokesman said.

Olszewski has called for the police department to release more body-worn camera footage following incidents. The department has said it’s working on a policy for releasing such footage.

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Brown was always ready with a smile, those who knew him said. He liked to play jokes, loved the Ravens and prioritized his two children — Gamel Jr. and Jamelle — and family, they said.

Frederick Simmons, the father of Brown’s fiancee, Jessica Simmons, said fathers live to “protect their children from harm.”

“I felt that if I died, that my daughter would be fine, that my granddaughter would be fine,” because of Brown, Frederick Simmons said. “I don’t understand this ... that man did not deserve to go.”

Keyon London, a former Target coworker of Brown’s, remembered Brown as someone who wouldn’t hang out after work, because he wanted to get back and spend time with his family.

“That’s all he knew, that’s all he wanted,” London said.

Another co-worker, Shannon Wissler, who worked with Brown at his current job as a maintenance superintendent for WPM Real Estate Management, said Brown was chill and always had “a great attitude.”

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“It’s going to be hard to find anybody that will match up to the person that he is,” she said. “He’s irreplaceable.”

Marion Brown, Gamel's mother, leaves the funeral home following the service. Family and loved ones held a funeral service for Gamel Brown Wednesday afternoon. Brown died in police custody after officers deployed a taser in Baltimore County last month.
Marion Brown, Gamel's mother, leaves the funeral home following the service. Family and loved ones held a funeral service for Gamel Brown Wednesday afternoon. Brown died in police custody after officers deployed a taser in Baltimore County last month.(Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Sun)

At least two other people have died after Baltimore County police used tasers in the past.

In 2007, three officers used a Taser 10 times on Ryan Meyers, 40. Police reportedly used the Taser because Meyers refused to drop a baseball bat when police responded to a Middle River home for a domestic violence call. Meyers’ family said police continued to use the Taser after the mentally ill man fell to the ground and stopped resisting arrest. The family said Meyers went into cardiac arrest and died because of the Taser.

In May 2010, county police said Carl D’Andre Johnson got into a rumble with officers after crashing a vehicle near a busy highway interchange, and continued fighting after officers used pepper spray and a Taser. The Windsor Mill man was hit with a Taser a second time and Johnson, 48, lost consciousness and was later declared dead at a hospital, police said.

A Taser gun, meant to be nonlethal, fires two small darts then sends an electrical jolt through wires connected to the darts to disrupt muscle control and incapitate its target.

Baltimore County police have ranked second among Maryland agencies with the highest number of Taser deployments in previous years. An investigation by The Baltimore Sun in 2016 showed that Baltimore County police discharged Tasers 367 times between 2012 and 2014.

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