City officer shoots unarmed woman

The Baltimore Sun

A woman who proved to be unarmed was shot by police in Cherry Hill yesterday morning after she refused to show her hands to an officer, police said.

About 9:30 a.m., police received a call about an armed person selling drugs in the 1700 block of Cherry Hill Road, in an industrial area of South Baltimore near a bus stop and the Cherry Hill light rail stop, said Sterling Clifford, a police spokesman.

A patrol sergeant observed a woman who fit the description of the suspect and who had her hands behind her back, Clifford said. When she refused to show her hands, the officer drew his gun and fired one shot, striking her in the stomach. She was taken to an unidentified area hospital.

Police said no weapon was recovered, though drugs were found among her possessions. They did not immediately identify the woman or the officer.

"When you total everything up, between the call that he got and her actions on the scene, [the officer] felt in fear for his safety," said Donny Moses, a police spokesman. "He didn't know what was behind her back, she failed to comply, and he did what he thought was justified."

Moses said internal affairs investigators as well as homicide detectives were looking into the incident.

According to the Police Department's general orders, officers may use their service weapons in instances of self-defense or to arrest someone whom the officer has probable cause to believe has committed a felony involving the use or threat of deadly force or serious injury, or who poses an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.

An officer is required to give a verbal warning, unless doing so would increase the risk of harm to the officer or others, the orders state.

There have been 17 police-involved shootings this year, 12 of which have been fatal, Moses said. The total is down from last year, when more than 30 people were shot by police, about a dozen of whom died.

Passengers getting off of the light rail had to duck under crime scene tape to get through the area yesterday morning as homicide detectives gathered to the side.

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