Officer shoots man wielding syringe


A drug raid at a West Baltimore "shooting gallery" -- so-called because thousands of hypodermic needles were found inside -- culminated with a man being shot in the face after rushing at a police officer with a syringe, authorities said.

Police said Lassiter Miller Jr., 37, of the 3000 block of Walbrook Ave. was shot in the right side of his face by the officer, who feared he would be stuck with the needle.

"The officer was concerned for his own safety because of the AIDS virus, and he told him to put down the needle," said police spokesman Sam Ringgold. "The man refused, and the officer fired."

Mr. Miller was listed in serious but stable condition last night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Assault charges are pending, police said.

The incident occurred at 4:45 p.m. when Officer Charles Carey, 24, a three-year veteran in the Southwest District, went to investigate a disturbance in a vacant house in the 2900 block of W. North Ave.

Police said they found numerous crack needles and crack vials littered among the trash on the property. Officer Carey went to the front door of the home while another officer went to the back, police said.

Officer Carey tried to force open the locked front door when Mr. Miller allegedly crashed through the front-door window and began charging after the officer, with a hypodermic needle in his hand, Mr. Ringgold said.

The officer fired and struck the suspect; the officer apparently was not struck by the needle, police said.

Several people were in the house at the time of the incident and tried to run out the back door, but were detained by police. They were not charged with any crimes last night.

Mr. Ringgold said officers who patrol the area referred to the boarded-up rowhouse as "a problem house" known for drug problems.

Investigating officers who went inside found thousands of crack vials and needles, Mr. Ringgold said. They also said the inside was filthy and smelled of urine and trash.

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