An off-duty city policeman shot and wounded a motorist on a downtown street last night after both men got out of their cars during an apparent "road rage" incident.
Police spokesman Angelique Cook-Hayes offered few details last night and would not release the names of either the policeman or the injured man. The wounded motorist was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital with a gunshot wound to his knee. Hospital officials would not release the man's name.
Occurring only three weeks after an officer's fatal shooting of Larry J. Hubbard, a case which has spawned community protests against police brutality and a federal investigation, word of last night's shooting brought Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to the scene at about 11 p.m.
"I was worried when I heard we had a police-involved shooting that we might have another community incident," said Schmoke, who broke away from a sister-city event with officials from Genoa, Italy, at the World Trade Center. "But this looks more like high-level road rage than anything."
Schmoke, who was briefed by detectives when he arrived, said, "Under the circumstances, [the officer] seemed to handle himself properly."
Cook-Hayes said that the unidentified officer gave this account: Shortly before 11 p.m., he was driving his personal van north on Charles Street when an argument began with a driver in a compact car. As the incident continued, the cars rounded the block and headed south on St. Paul Street.
According to witnesses, the man in the compact got out of his car at a red light at St. Paul and Preston Streets, Cook-Hayes said.
The policeman got out of his van. According to Schmoke, at least one witness said that the officer, who was not in uniform, identified himself as a police officer. Schmoke said he was told that the man then rushed the officer.
According to witness reports, the officer shouted "Freeze" before firing a single shot when the man didn't stop. Witnesses said it did not appear that the motorist was armed.
The officer was questioned late last night in a police cruiser at the scene, while police cordoned off the intersection with tape and redirected southbound traffic on St. Paul Street.
In the earlier shooting, Hubbard, 21, was shot in the back of the head on Oct. 7 by Officer Barry W. Hamilton after running from a car reportedly stolen.