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Man shot by Baltimore Police officers during reported mental health crisis charged with assault

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, right, and other department officials at the scene of a shooting where officers fired on a man who allegedly pulled a gun on them in the basement of a home in the 5800 block of Falkirk Road. The man remains hospitalized and police have charged him with assault.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, right, and other department officials at the scene of a shooting where officers fired on a man who allegedly pulled a gun on them in the basement of a home in the 5800 block of Falkirk Road. The man remains hospitalized and police have charged him with assault. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

A 33-year-old man shot by Baltimore police officers responding to a call that he was having a behavioral crisis is being charged with first-degree assault for allegedly pointing a firearm at officers.

Ricky Walker Jr. remains hospitalized with injuries that police previously described as critical.

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The narrative laid out in the charging document obtained by The Sun says the medics who responded with police decided to stay outside of the home citing safety concerns. A fire department spokeswoman did not respond Monday to a request to corroborate that account.

Police have not yet released body camera footage of the incident that could corroborate the chain of events that led to the shooting.

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Detectives wrote in the charging document that officers responded with medics around 3:30 a.m. on July 1 to the home in the 5800 block of Falkirk Road, where Walker’s mother-in-law said her daughter was in the basement with Walker trying to calm him down. She said Walker had been hospitalized a week prior for running around the neighborhood naked with a handgun, detectives wrote in charging documents, although The Sun could not confirm that account.

Inside, Walker’s wife told Officers Eduardo Ortiz and another officer that Walker may be armed with a handgun. Walker told them he did not have any weapons, police wrote in the charging document.

Detectives wrote that the officers spoke with Walker for 12 minutes “in an attempt to de-escalate and keep the defendant calm to get him medical attention in a safe manner.”

They say Walker then pulled a semi-automatic handgun out of his shorts and pointed it with both hands at Ortiz.

“As a result of this imminent threat, Police Officer Ortiz and Police Officer [Avery] Torand discharged their service weapons, striking the defendant in his torso area and incapacitating him,” detectives wrote.

Police wrote that they found a second handgun in Walker’s shorts — a revolver with three rounds in the chamber — as well as an AK-47 assault rifle on the floor. Police said at a news conference last week that two guns had been found.

Court records show Walker’s wife filed for a divorce in November. The case is listed as open and active but no further action has been taken.

Reached by phone Monday, Walker’s father declined to comment.

The shooting came amid a heightened debate about the role of police officers following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Local protesters and mental health advocates had zeroed in on the issue of officers responding to mental health crisis situations, saying officers lack training to respond and should be replaced by mental health professionals.

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison has agreed generally, but said such alternative systems are not yet in place. He also said last week in an interview with WJZ that the reports of Walker being armed required police involvement.

The ACLU of Maryland said last week that the shooting followed a “disturbingly familiar pattern ... where officers called to assist someone in mental distress instead trigger a crisis, failing to see the person’s humanity and shooting instead of helping.”

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