A double-fatal shooting in Northeast Baltimore in December has been reclassified as a justified act, reducing the city’s 2017 homicide count from 343 to 341, Baltimore Police said Friday.
Last year remains the deadliest in the city’s history on a per capita basis.
The shooting in question occurred about 1 p.m. on Dec. 18 in the 1100 block of E. 43rd St., police said.
At the time, police said officers had arrived on the block for a reported shooting and found 27-year-old Donnell Haley with a gunshot wound to his stomach. Haley, who police said had a handgun in his possession, died at a local hospital, police said.
Officers then “received information that another shooting victim was inside of a home” in the 4700 block of Midwood Ave., and found Devin Perkins, 31, shot in the chest. Perkins also died at a local hospital.
Police said the incident was counted as a double homicide until Thursday, when the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office notified police that prosecutors would decline to file charges in the case given the circumstances.
Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow said that the man who committed the shooting “had the right to use the force that he used” because Haley and Perkins were engaged in beating the man’s neighbor at the time, including by pistol-whipping him.
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“The law allows the use of such force to come to the defense of others,” Schatzow said.
Det. Jeremy Silbert, a police spokesman, said it was determined that the individual who shot Haley and Perkins was acting in the defense of others, as Haley and Perkins were attacking another individual at the time of the shooting.
Haley and Perkins’ families could not be reached for comment Friday.
Intentional fatal shootings are technically “homicides,” as logged by the medical examiner’s office, whether they are justified or not. But justified shootings aren’t counted by the city in uniform reporting of killings to the FBI — which is the number both officially and colloquially referred to as the homicide count.
With 341 homicides now counted last year, 2017 remains the deadliest in the city’s history, with a per capita homicide rate of 55.5 per 100,000 residents.
Last month, police announced that two killings in 2015 had been ruled justified as well, dropping the total number of homicides that year to 342. However, the city had several thousand more residents in 2015, according to the most recent U.S. Census data — making the corresponding per capita homicide rate for 2015 about 55 per 100,000 residents.
The most homicides in a single year was 353 in 1993, but the city had about 100,000 more residents at the time, and therefore a per capita rate of below 50.