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Crime

Baltimore state’s attorney clears two officers of wrongdoing in 2021 shootings

The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office has cleared two police officers of wrongdoing after they both shot and injured people in separate incidents last year.

The shootings, in May and August, were two of eight police shootings in the city in 2021, according to a Baltimore Sun database. Five were deadly.

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One of the shootings occurred on The Block after officers saw a group of people fighting, police said. The other was in East Baltimore and happened after a suspect hit the officer with a car, police said.

The state’s attorney notified the Baltimore Police Department of the decision not to charge the officers in December, said Zy Richardson, a spokeswoman for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her office. The reports were released publicly Feb. 7, the only ones published so far about police shootings from 2021.

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Richardson said the reports are complicated and, as a result, often take a long time to complete. Maryland law requires prosecutors to issue official decisions outlining why they chose not to charge a police officer with a crime when they use deadly force.

“Each case undergoes an exhaustive and detailed investigation led by the Police Integrity Unit with consultation from Mosby and the executive team,” Richardson wrote in a statement.

Richardson said each decision is treated similarly to other cases and requires thorough legal analysis.

University of Baltimore School of Law Professor Amy Dillard, who studies police use of force, said the legal process is more thorough for law enforcement than normal people.

“The idea that it would take six, eight, nine months for someone to decide whether to charge you for a crime is absurd for civilians,” Dillard said. “We have a different criminal process for police officers.”

In both of the shootings, it was determined the officers acted in self-defense and were justified in their use of force, the review by Mosby’s office concluded.

One incident happened on The Block in August when a group of police went to break up a fight at Baltimore and Holliday streets downtown.

Officer Alexandros Haziminas, who has been on the force since 2014, told investigators he thought he heard gunfire and saw a man pointing a handgun at a group of people.

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According to the state’s attorney’s report, the man, later identified as Terrance Hillman, saw Haziminas and started running away. Haziminas followed and Hillman turned to point a gun at him when Haziminas shot him three times, the report says.

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Police recovered a gun from the scene and later arrested Hillman on gun charges. His case is pending in Baltimore Circuit Court, according to online court records.

Haziminas has been a defendant in two separate federal lawsuits accusing him of brutality, according to records in U.S. District Court. In one suit, filed in 2019, a man is alleging Haziminas choke-slammed him during a night out at Power Plant Live!; it is still pending in federal court. The other was dismissed in April 2019 after the plaintiff failed to respond.

Haziminas has a base salary of $79,964, but nearly doubled his pay in 2021 with about $72,020 in overtime, according to city salary data. Including overtime, Haziminas has made more than $122,000 annually every year since 2018.

In the other police shooting, officers approached a parked SUV in the 2200 block of E. Biddle St. with guns drawn last May after noticing it matched the description of a vehicle stolen in an armed robbery earlier that day, according to the state’s attorney’s report.

The driver, Corey Dixon, drove off when one officer tried to open the driver’s side door, police video shows. Dixon ran into another officer, Thomas Smith, who was yelling for Dixon to stop. Smith shot into the car twice, hitting Dixon in the hand and shoulder, according to the state’s attorney’s report.

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Smith has worked for the police department since July 2020 and has a salary of $55,117, according to a city salary database.

Dixon crashed the car and ran off before being arrested minutes later. Police arrested him on assault charges and a traffic violation, and his case is pending in Circuit Court.


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