xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

One man dead in crash, another missing in harbor after fleeing from Baltimore Police in separate incidents

One man is dead from being hit by a car and another is missing in the waters of the Inner Harbor after they each fled from Baltimore Police officers in separate incidents Thursday night and early Friday morning, police said.

Larry Whitfield, 21, was first approached by officers conducting a narcotics investigation outside his home in the 2700 block of Greenmount Ave., between the Harwood and Better Waverly neighborhoods, about 8:35 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Advertisement

Whitfield “immediately fled” on foot, and was running across Greenmount Avenue when he was struck by a southbound Kia Optima, police said. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died early Friday, police said.

On Friday afternoon, Whitfield’s mother Faye Whitfield stood in the front door of her home, crying as she stared at the spot in the street where her eldest son — who sometimes went by his middle name Deray — was struck. She said she had been asleep the night before when she “heard a bunch of confusion,” looked outside “and saw my son laying in the street.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Officers told her they were “trying to catch” her son because he was distributing narcotics. But “there were witnesses out here that said he ain’t have nothing but a nickel bag of weed or something,” she said, her eyes welling up with tears. “They ain’t have to chase him. He ain’t have a gun or nothing.”

Detectives from the CRASH Team and the Special Investigation Response Team were called to the scene and are investigating, police said.

Keisha Coleman, 31, said she was on the block when the accident occurred. She said Whitfield had run from the officers after one put his hand on his service weapon. She said she “watched his body go under the car,” and that the driver of the Kia kept driving down the street — which she said a camera on a street light above the scene would show.

Coleman also said people from the neighborhood tried to help Whitfield while police stood around waiting for medical personnel to arrive.

“I went over to that boy’s body in the middle of the street,” she said. “They was just over there regular talking. They weren’t trying to help him or nothing.”

Police said the Kia’s driver was not injured, and has not been charged. They initially said she had remained on the scene, as well, but after being asked about Coleman’s comments, Capt. Jarron Jackson, a police spokesman, acknowledged the driver had driven down the street before stopping. But, he said, there was “no indication that the driver was attempting to flee the scene or elude officers.”

Jackson said investigators will be looking into any video evidence from the scene. Police said narcotics were found on the scene, but Jackson would not say which kind or the volume.

He said it appears the officers “were following proper protocols when approaching and chasing” Whitfield, and none have had their status changed pending the outcome of the investigation.

The same is true in relation to the incident involving a man going into the harbor about five hours later, Jackson said.

Officers patrolling in Fells Point were flagged down about 1:30 a.m. by a local tavern manager who said there was “a man behaving aggressively towards business patrons and employees” in the 700 block of South Broadway, police said.

Police then located Gokhan Donald Oztas, 33, in a nearby parking lot, began interviewing him and realized he was wanted on a warrant for second-degree assault and possession of a deadly weapon, police said.

“Oztas then took off running, fleeing on foot, away from officers,” the police said.

In the 1600 block of Thames Street, Oztas “slipped through a pass-way leading to the water,” police said.

“Ignoring verbal commands from officers, Oztas deliberately jumped into the water and began swimming away,” police said.

Police said the officers on the scene called the fire department and the police department’s marine unit.

Officers “last observed Oztas drifting back towards the dock and then submerged in the water,” police said, but officials have not been able to locate him since despite an “exhaustive search.”

His “condition and whereabouts” are now considered unknown, police said. The Special Investigation Response Team is investigating the case, as well.

Oztas’ family could not be reached on Friday. The address he gave in the assault case referenced by police was that of a local shelter for homeless residents in the city’s Jonestown neighborhood. A manager there declined to comment.

Jackson, the police spokesman, called both incidents “tragic,” but said Whitfield and Oztas “made personal decisions to flee after being approached by uniformed police officers.”

Faye Whitfield said her son was a “good child” and a good older brother to her other children who had earned a high school diploma, stayed out of any serious trouble and “was trying to find himself.”

She begged police to conduct a thorough investigation into the crash. “I need to know something — why my son is gone,” she said, as emotion flooded her face.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said. “I don’t even have enough money to bury him.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the Metro Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-866-7-LOCK-UP.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement