State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby along with Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis announced attempted first degree murder charges against Officer Wesley Cagle. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
A Baltimore police officer has been charged with attempted murder in the shooting of an unarmed burglary suspect last December, State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis announced Wednesday.
The officer, 13-year veteran Wesley Cagle, is accused of shooting Michael Johansen, 46, in the 3000 block of E. Monument St. after he had been shot by two other officers. Cagle was charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault.
District Court Judge Halee F. Weinstein on Thursday cited the "heinous and callous nature" of the allegations in setting Cagle's bail at $1 million. Cagle's defense attorney Chaz Ball argued that Cagle is not a threat to the community or a risk to not appear in court, and instead asked for bail to be set at $150,000.
Mosby said the first two officers were justified in shooting Johansen because he refused to heed commands and made a move toward his waistband.
But Cagle "on his own initiative" came out of an alley, Mosby said, stood over Johansen, called him a "piece of [expletive]" and shot him in the groin.
"Johansen was no longer considered a potential threat, as witnesses did not see Johansen make any aggressive or threatening movements," Mosby said.
Both Cagle and Johansen are white.
The charges come months after Mosby filed charges against six officers in the arrest and transport of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore man who died in April after suffering a severe spinal cord injury in a police van.
The officer who drove the van was charged with second-degree murder; others were charged with manslaughter or lesser charges.
Cagle, 45, is the first Baltimore police officer criminally charged in an on-duty shooting since Officer Tommy Sanders, who was charged with manslaughter in the 2008 shooting of an unarmed man who ran to evade arrest. A jury acquitted Sanders of all charges in 2010.
Davis, the interim commissioner, called the charges a "punch in the gut" but said that when officers learn more about the case, they will "realize that this Police Department and state's attorney's office did the right thing."
"It doesn't make me feel very good at all," Davis said. "But what's really important here is that the integrity of our profession, the integrity of our agency, wins out."
Cagle was taken into custody Wednesday, police said.
Gene Ryan, president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said that he "did not have all of the facts surrounding this investigation" but that "this officer will have his day in court, and I have faith that the judicial system will properly determine guilt or innocence."
Ryan said it was his responsibility as union president "to represent and support each and every one of our members until such time as the evidence suggests otherwise."
"As I have stated numerous times in the past, no one is above the law, but all citizens of our nation are entitled to due process."
The shooting occurred about 4:30 a.m. Dec. 28. Officers were called to the 3000 block of E. Monument St. in the Madison Eastend neighborhood for a report of a burglary at a corner grocery store.
Cagle and Officers Keven Leary and Isiah Smith took up positions on the side and rear of Patel's Corner 3 while Officer Dancy Debrosse went to the front, Mosby said. Leary and Smith then went to the side door while Cagle went to the alley.
Debrosse looked through the front door of the store, saw a masked man near the cash register and watched him head toward a side door, Mosby said. Leary and Smith confronted him, she said, and told him to show his hands. When he didn't comply and instead reached toward his waist, she said, they fired at him.
He fell to the floor, his body partially inside of the store and his feet on the steps outside.
While Leary and Smith were covering him with their guns drawn, Mosby said, Cagle walked in and stood over him with his gun drawn. The man said to Cagle, "What did you shoot me with, a beanbag?"
According to Mosby, Cagle replied: "No, a .40-caliber, you piece of [expletive]," and fired one shot.
In an interview with Fox 45 news Wednesday, Johansen said, "I'm glad justice is being done about it," he said."I wish it never happened though."
He told Fox that he doesn't want the officer to go to prison over the shooting but added, "I just want him to be accountable for what he did."
At the time of the incident, the Police Department said the officers fired because they believed they saw Johansen holding a "shiny object," and that he was shot at least once in the upper torso. Police did not mention the gunshot wound to his groin area.
Cagle joined the Police Department at age 32. He earned $76,021.76 in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Court records show he was among several officers sued in 2004. Records show a settlement was reached, but detailed information was not available late Wednesday.
In March 2014, Cagle filed for bankruptcy in U.S. District Court in Maryland, records show.
Court records show Johansen is awaiting trial on charges including second-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary and theft of less than $1,000. He is free on $20,000 bail pending a jury trial scheduled for Sept. 9. He had no attorney listed in court records.
Records also show that Johansen has been charged in a series of burglaries and thefts. In 2006 he received a 10-year suspended sentence for second-degree burglary.
Mosby drew praise and criticism in May when she filed charges against the officers in Gray's arrest with violations ranging from misconduct in office to second-degree murder.
Mosby filed the charges after what she said was an investigation by her office, conducted parallel to a police investigation.
Supporters said the move helped to calm a city that had erupted in riots, arson and looting. Police union leaders warned that they could affect the ability of officers to do their jobs. Arrests in the city plummeted after the charges, and homicides and other violence have soared.
The six officers in that case have pleaded not guilty; a trial is scheduled to begin in October.
Of the charges against Cagle, Davis noted that the Police Department investigated the incident in conjunction with prosecutors.
Asked about the viability of the charges, Mosby said: "We're going to let justice run its course, and that will be up to a judge or a jury to determine."