Larry Hubbard, the man shot in the back of the head and killed by a police officer last week, was hailed as a martyr at his funeral yesterday -- a theme that continued last night when a raucous crowd confronted mayoral candidates about crime-fighting strategies.
One day after the U.S. Justice Department announced its investigation into Hubbard's death at the hands of Officer Barry W. Hamilton, more than 200 people packed a service at Triumph Missionary Baptist Church in the 2200 block of E. Oliver St.
There, relatives and friends grieved and swapped stories of two men and two nicknames. The bulky, 250-pound Hubbard, 21, was known as "Fat Herb." A former student at Fairmont/Hartford High School, he wanted to be a florist and a rap performer, but fell into a culture of drugs, crime and corner cliques, his family said.
Barclay Street neighborhood residents called Hamilton, who patrolled the area for several years, "Clint Eastwood," partly for his looks, but mainly for his police practices, residents say.
"[Hamilton] had no remorse on the street," said Kevin Smith, 20, of the 2100 block of Barclay St., who said he had had run-ins with the officer. "He would embarrass you, strip you, he just didn't care."
Hubbard and Hamilton's deadly clash one week ago has enraged the East Baltimore neighborhood and put the city on the defensive in the fourth police shooting this year resulting in a death.
Police say Hamilton shot Hubbard after he resisted arrest and tried to grab the gun of his partner, Officer Robert J. Quick. But witnesses said Hubbard did not reach for the gun and the officers punched him, partially handcuffed him, tripped him and then shot him as he pleaded for his life in the 2000 block of Barclay St.
Hamilton, an eight-year veteran of the police force, does not have a pattern of police misconduct, Police spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr. said yesterday. Quick is one of three officers named in a federal lawsuit filed in March by an East Baltimore man who said he was subjected to racial epithets during an arrest.
Both officers, have been placed on administrative duty. Neither could be reached yesterday for comment. The department has promised a thorough investigation.
Much of the two-hour funeral service was a direct appeal to Hubbard's friends to remain calm. "It's warfare now, whether you like or it not," said the Rev. Willie Ray, chairman and founder of the Stop the Killing foundation. "I don't mean get your guns or Molotov cocktails. It's a spiritual warfare. Fat Herb is a martyr just like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X."
Outside the funeral, two lawyers hired by Hubbard's family warned city officials to cooperate with investigators.
"The city's policy since the days of race segregation has been to deny, cover up and litigate," said attorney William H. Murphy Jr. "I want an open investigation where no facts are hidden, no evidence is tampered, no testimony is changed, no witnesses are intimidated, and no cover-up is attempted."
Murphy's concerns were echoed by Sgt. Richard Hite, president of the Baltimore police Vanguard Justice Society, an organization of black officers. Hite said the Hubbard shooting has heightened tensions between white and black police officers.
"It is time for the higher-ups in the department to step up to the plate and acknowledge we have a serious problem with police brutality," said Hite, who attended the funeral. "It's time to set the tone."
Hite plans to meet today with Hubbard's friends -- members of the True Outlaw Clique, a loose-knit group of young men and women in the Barclay Street community to which Hubbard belonged -- to try to squelch threats of violent retribution.
Yesterday, the group's members, about a dozen of whom sat in the first pew, wore a portrait of Hubbard and the letters T.O.C. on white T-shirts. After the service, they paraded in front of television cameras and vowed retribution for Hubbard's death if city officials do not act immediately against Hamilton.
The sentiment was repeated at a demonstration last night outside the Enoch Pratt Free Library, where a mayoral debate was held.
"I'm begging and I am pleading, just like he [Hubbard] did, that we want justice, and this will not stop until the end," said Taegan Hubbard, 34, Hubbard's first cousin. "I will not rest until we get justice. If I have to die like him, I will."
Taegan Hubbard was among about 200 protesters who confronted mayoral candidates David F. Tufaro, a Republican, and Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, closing Cathedral Street and chanting, "Tell the truth, stop the lies, Larry Hubbard did not have to die" at officers. They also shouted, "O'Malley, what's the tally?"
Both candidates addressed the crowd and called for a complete investigation of Hubbard's death.
In an interview, Tufaro called the killing unfortunate and appealed for calm. O'Malley seized a bullhorn, assuring the protesters that Hubbard's death had nothing to do with the zero-tolerance law enforcement strategy he espouses, and promising, "It would be fully and truthfully investigated at the beginning of the next term" if he's elected mayor.
O'Malley, who called Hubbard's family Tuesday to offer support, was also challenged outside the funeral, where black ministers, elderly women and teen-age boys demonstrated. "You now have a black community united against zero tolerance," Ray said. "Fat Herb is bringing zero tolerance to the forefront."
The Barclay community is organizing a vigil for Wednesday -- the day Hubbard would have turned 22 -- to protest zero tolerance.
"The police are licensed murderers that are suppose to protect us," said Angel Cook, 26, of Cooksville, who attended the funeral.
In other action related to Hubbard's death, the City Council's Executive Nominations Committee postponed yesterday a hearing on candidates for a civil police review board that could study the shooting after state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV raised concerns about how the nominees were chosen.
Mitchell told the three-member committee that the four state lawmakers who created the board with legislation in Annapolis this past session expected the mayor to allow more community involvement in his appointments than they say he did.