City officer shoots, kills assailant

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A Baltimore police officer shot and killed a man moments after the man fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend with a kitchen knife on the sidewalk outside her West Baltimore home early yesterday, city police said.

Lequisha I. Truitt, 28, of the 2500 block of W. Baltimore St. died at the scene in front of her 8-year-old daughter, police said. Authorities declined to identify the man, saying they were awaiting confirmation of his identity through fingerprints.

The police officer, Andrea Curtis of the Southwestern District, joined the force in 1999.

She has been placed on administrative duties pending an internal investigation.

Police said Curtis was on night patrol when she passed by Truitt's small Formstone rowhouse as a furious domestic scene was coming to a violent end.

Officer Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman, said homicide detectives had pieced together an account that begins with an ex-boyfriend of Truitt's entering the house about midnight.

When he found Truitt in the company of another man, he confronted them and, in a struggle, tried to choke the other man, Monroe said.

The new boyfriend, whose identity police declined to give, fled the house on foot, Monroe said, leaving Truitt and her daughter alone with an attacker who had armed himself with a kitchen knife.

Monroe said the estranged boyfriend continued to wield the knife and grabbed Truitt. He forced her outside the house while was she was unclothed.

Truitt's daughter witnessed the assault from the doorway and followed the pair outside.

Curtis, the police officer on patrol, saw the beating and stabbing on the marble steps and sidewalk outside Truitt's home. She stopped her car and fired chemical Mace at the assailant, Monroe said.

With Truitt lying on the sidewalk, the attacker brandished his knife in a threatening way at Curtis, Monroe said. The police officer shot him, and he fell next to Truitt.

He was pronounced dead at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Monroe said.

Truitt suffered a stab wound to the chest, police said.

Neighbors said they were shocked and sad that they could not protect Truitt as she fought for her life.

Ronald "Rock" Smith, 54, who lives two doors away, said, "I looked out my window and I wished I was out there. I've never seen something like that."

Curtis was seen shaking with emotion after the shooting, neighbors said.

An expert on domestic abuse, Carole Anderson, executive director of the House of Ruth shelter and services for battered women, said yesterday that Truitt was at high risk if she was just ending an abusive relationship to date someone else.

"The most vulnerable period for lethal abuse is when women end the relationship," Anderson said. If the police account is accurate, she said, "This is a crime of control."

The child, who was not injured, was staying with relatives last night, police said.

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