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Baltimore County officers placed on leave while department investigates death of man in custody

Baltimore Co. Police Chief Melissa Hyatt responds to a question about a man who died after being tased while taken into custody.

Four Baltimore County police officers were placed on administrative leave Wednesday after an Owings Mills man died following the use of a Taser, police announced Friday.

The four officers on paid administrative leave are Officer First Class Miller, Officer First Class Besaw, Officer McElfish and Officer Cantrell. Officers Miller, Besaw and McElfish are all multi-year veterans working in the Franklin Precinct; Officer Cantrell is a probationary officer assigned to the field training program in the Franklin Precinct, police said.

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Baltimore County typically does not release the first names of officers, citing a contract with the police union.

Gamel Antonio Brown, 30, was pronounced dead at a local hospital where he had gone into cardiac arrest after officers deployed a Taser while responding to a call, police said earlier this week. Tasers fire electrified darts that incapacitate their targets.

Police said officers were dispatched to a home in the unit block of Gwynnswood Road for an injured person and attempted to provide assistance. Officers encountered Brown at the home, police said, and his demeanor “suddenly changed and he became volatile and extremely combative with the officers.”

Officer Jennifer Peach, a police department spokeswoman, said the department was not yet releasing any more information about the incident, including who called 911, whether Brown was hit by a Taser or other details about the incident.

Baltimore County Chief of Police Melissa Hyatt said Wednesday morning that the incident is under investigation and she was unable to provide more detail.

“Of course, with any investigation, and certainly with an in-custody death, we will ensure that the police department will conduct a thorough investigation covering all aspects of the incident,” Hyatt said during a Wednesday press conference.

A spokesman for County Executive Johnny Olszewski said the executive believes footage of the incident should be released after a thorough investigation.

Baltimore County does not have a written police that dictates when body-worn camera footage is publicly released, though Olszewski has called for the department to release such footage more often. Peach said the department was still working on outlining a police when it comes to releasing body-worn camera footage.

Peach said police did not know if or when footage of the Tuesday night incident would be released.

Baltimore County police have ranked second among Maryland agencies with the highest number of Taser uses. According to a 2016 investigation by The Baltimore Sun, the department reported 367 Taser discharges between 2012-2014.

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