Issue of armed police officers at bars has flared in recent years

The issue of Baltimore City police officers carrying guns at bars — renewed after this weekend's fatal shooting outside a Mount Vernon club — has been raised many times over the years. Police point to several instances in which armed off-duty officers in bars have legitimately used their weapons to defend themselves or others.

In November 2009, a city officer shot a man who stabbed him during a fight outside a strip club, Christina's Female Revue, in Dundalk.

In March 2008, authorities said a city police officer stood outside a Canton bar and fired his service weapon at a car as he sped away, hitting its gas tank. Police said the officer and the driver had gotten into an altercation inside the bar. The officer has a trial pending on a charge of attempted murder.

And in 2007, two city officers patronizing Club Fantasies in South Baltimore's Curtis Bay neighborhood shot and killed a 38-year-old man who tried to hold up the club with a shotgun. The officers, who had just gotten off their midnight shift, fired after the robber fired into the ceiling.

But the practice came under strict scrutiny in 2008 when a city officer shot and killed a colleague, Norman M. Stamp, outside a Baltimore strip club on South Haven Street. Stamp had been out drinking with biker buddies to celebrate his 44th anniversary on the force when a fight broke out and spilled outside.

Three police officers rushed to the bar and confronted Stamp, who was hitting one of the combatants with brass knuckles. An officer Tased Stamp, who stood, pulled out his service weapon, and was shot by an officer twice in the chest. He later died.

Just last month, a block away from the scene of Saturday's shooting, another off-duty police officer shot and wounded a man suspected of breaking into the officers car. That incident occurred at East Chase and North Charles streets, between the Belvedere Hotel and Brewer's Art restaurant and bar.

This latest shooting comes just one day after another city police officer shot and wounded a 26-year-old who police said was burglarizing the officer's home in Dundalk, in Baltimore County. Police in that case said the suspected burglar was shot inside the officer's living room.

City police officers have shot five people this year, killing three of them. Last year at this time, officers had shot eight people. The majority of police involved shootings are ruled justified. But a trial began on Friday in which a city officer, Thomas Sanders, is charged with manslaughter in connection with an on-duty shooting in 2008 in the Hamilton Shopping Center.

peter.hermann@baltsun.com

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