A local police lodge endorsed county state's attorney Frank R. Weathersbee as a payback for pressing no criminal charges against an officer who fatally shot a pregnant woman during a drug raid, Weathersbee's challenger charged yesterday.
Republican candidate Timothy D. Murnane said he was told last summer by the vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Anne Arundel Lodge 70, that the group owed Weathersbee an endorsement for his handling of the case involving Thomas G. Tyzack, who shot and killed 26-year-old Crystal Wallace during a raid last October in Severn.
In February, Weathersbee's office ruled Tyzack was negligent but did not charge him with any crime.
After investigating the case, the U.S. Department of Justice also declined to prosecute Tyzack, who had been involved in another accidental shooting months before the drug raid.
The FOP lodge voted unanimously Tuesday to endorse Weathersbee's election bid, said county police detective John Ogle, acting president of the lodge.
Murnane said the news prompted him to recall a telephone conversation with county police officer B. Scott Pittaway, vice president of Lodge 70. "He said, 'We've got to go with Frank.' I said, 'Why?' He said, 'He helped us out on Tyzack and we owe him,' " Murnane said. "I couldn't believe he said it."
Pittaway denied telling Murnane the 500-member lodge "owed" Weathersbee anything. But he said the group appreciated Weathersbee's "courage" in not bowing to pressure to seek an indictment.
The NAACP called for an investigation into the shooting of the black woman by the white officer.
Weathersbee defended his office's handling of the Tyzack investigation. "We did our usual thorough job in investigating the shooting and made our decision. It wasn't based upon our loyalty to anyone. It was based on the facts."
Weathersbee added, "Murnane says lots of things. I mean, he just talks."
Murnane, who resigned as an assistant public defender to run for state's attorney, has based his campaign on an aggressive attack on Weathersbee's competence and leadership ability.
In a prepared statement announcing their endorsement of Weathersbee, Pittaway said, "Putting criminals away is a team effort. Our Anne Arundel County police-prosecutors team has an enviable record that we must keep intact. . . . We note with concern that Frank's opposition is an ex-public defender who has devoted his career to keeping criminals out of jail while Frank has devoted his to putting criminals in jail."