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Crime

Baltimore Police release body-worn camera footage of Saturday’s fatal police shooting

Baltimore Police officers’ body-worn camera footage showed the moments leading up to the deadly shooting of an 18-year-old as he attempted to flee from police Saturday.

At least four officers approached a white Honda Accord, driven by 18-year-old Donnell Rochester, just after 3 p.m. Saturday in Northeast Baltimore.

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“Stop it, stop the car,” Officer Connor Murray yells as Rochester drives the car toward him in the video released by the department Friday.

Murray, a three-year veteran, fires his gun toward the vehicle as Rochester continues to drive toward the officer. Murray then drops to the ground and rolls out of the way as the car continues down the street.

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Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and Deputy Commissioner Brian Nadeau, who oversees the department’s Public Integrity Bureau, played videos from four officers at a news conference Friday afternoon.

“I understand fully the high level of public scrutiny that results of any use of force from our department, and law enforcement agencies across the country,” Harrison said. “The Baltimore Police Department is committed to conducting a thorough investigation into these incidents.”

Harrison previously said an officer fired his weapon before being struck by the car, but on Friday he said, based on the videos, “we cannot tell if Officer Murray is struck by the vehicle.”

Police have not said any officers were injured.

The Baltimore Sun has been unable to reach Rochester’s family. He did not have a prior criminal record, according to online court records.

Officers pursued Rochester after license plate readers indicated the driver had an open bench warrant related to an armed robbery carjacking against him, Harrison said. Investigators have learned since of a second warrant against Rochester from another jurisdiction, but Harrison did not provide additional details about that warrant.

The officers attempted to stop Rochester in the 1800 block of Chilton St., near Lake Montebello.

There, Rochester and a female passenger are seen getting out of the vehicle, and then when they see the officers approach, Rochester walks back to the car to drive away, Nadeau said at the news conference. The female passenger fled the area.

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In the footage, Murray is running up the street toward the front of the car when Rochester starts driving toward him. The officer calls out commands for Rochester to stop before firing his gun at the vehicle. The officer then rolls out of the way of the car, as it moves down the street.

He can be heard yelling “shots fired.”

In a separate video, Officer Robert Mauri is seen rushing up toward the vehicle. Murray is seen at a distance, standing in front of the car, and his shots can be heard. Murray is then seen jumping away from the car when Mauri also opens fire.

The car travels a short distance down the street, where Rochester slowly exits the vehicle with his hands up, and the officers rush over and handcuff him. The officers roll Rochester over onto his back, and blood can be seen on the ground beneath him. An officer can be heard calling for a medic over the radio.

One officer asks: “Where are you hit at?”

The officers then put gloves on and attempt to search Rochester’s body for a gunshot wound. The department said medics arrived and took Rochester to an area hospital where he later died.

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Harrison said the officers who fired are assigned to the mobile metro unit, which had been deployed to the Northeast District because of a recent spree of armed robberies and carjackings. Officers from the unit are deployed to different areas of the city, based on recent crime trends.

The officers remain on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, Harrison said.

A reporter asked Harrison on Friday about the department’s policy regarding firing at a fleeing vehicle.

“That’s a question that the investigation will ask and answer and produce an answer for,” Harrison responded.

According to the department’s use-of-force policy, officers are permitted to “use deadly force to prevent the escape of a fleeing suspect” under certain circumstances, including if “the escape of the suspect would pose an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer.”

The Attorney General’s Office also is investigating the shooting. The office is now responsible for investigating all police-involved shootings in the state as part of sweeping police reform legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly last year.

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Baltimore Police and the Attorney General’s Office reached an agreement to also allow the police department to conduct its own investigations to meet certain requirements of its federal consent decree.


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