Taneytown officer cleared in deadly Christmas shooting

The Taneytown Police officer who shot and killed a hammer-wielding 26-year-old man on Christmas acted in full compliance with the law, according to the Carroll County State's Attorney's Office.

The state's attorney's office conducted an independent review of the shooting death of Edward L. Becker Jr., of Taneytown, and concluded the use of deadly force by officer Steven Sakadales was justifiable and lawful.

A grand jury investigative inquiry was held Thursday in Carroll County Circuit Court.

Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry Barnes and members of his office reviewed civilian witness statements, police in-car videos, 911 calls, physical evidence and statements from the three on-scene officers in making its determination.

Sakadales, a 4½-year veteran of the department, declined to comment.

Around 8:30 p.m. Dec. 25, three Taneytown police officers responded to Becker's home in the unit block of Commerce Street after his parents called 911. They reported to police that Becker was drunk and acting disorderly.

According to the state's attorney's office investigation, when officers arrived on scene they encountered Becker holding a large framing hammer and he quickly charged directly at one of the officers.

Becker was shot after he refused repeated demands by police to drop the weapon.

Becker died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

"The actions of the involved Taneytown Police officers were both lawful and in compliance with their current departmental regulations governing the use of deadly force, therefore no criminal charges will be pursued," Barnes wrote in a prepared statement.

The Maryland State Police conducted an investigation of the shooting and turned over its findings to the Carroll County State's Attorney's Office in March.

Sakadales was placed on administrative leave following the shooting and put back on regular duty in February.

Taneytown Police Chief William Tyler said he is pleased the investigation has been concluded.

"On behalf of the mayor and City Council of Taneytown I want to express their support and gratitude for the dedication and service of the officers of the Taneytown Police Department," Tyler said in a prepared statement. "Their professionalism and dedication to duty is the reason Taneytown is the safe place our residents know and expect."