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Crime

Man killed in October by Baltimore County Police was shot in back, AG report finds. Local prosecutors say it was justified.

The man fatally shot by a Baltimore County Police lieutenant in October was hit in the upper right of his back after first firing at least one shot at the officer, according to a report released Monday by the Maryland attorney general’s office.

The bullet entry wound indicated Jovan Singleton, 36, turned away when he was shot, the report stated. Investigators wrote it was possible Singleton had turned to flee after Lt. Gregory Mead began to shoot, but there wasn’t enough evidence to say definitively.

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Police have said Singleton and Mead exchanged gunfire after Mead responded to a report of a vehicle crash near a robbery at a 7-Eleven on Windsor Mill Road around 2 a.m. Oct. 11.

Singleton was found dead by police about five hours after the shooting in the side yard of a home in the Woodlawn area, about 170 feet from the shooting scene.

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Mead won’t face criminal charges in connection with Singleton’s shooting, the Baltimore County deputy state’s attorney wrote in a letter this month after reviewing the findings of the Independent Investigations Division, the unit of the attorney general’s office charged with investigations into fatalities involving police.

Deputy State’s Attorney Robin Coffin said the shooting was “justified for the protection of Lt. Mead’s life and the surrounding community.”

None of the interaction was captured by body-worn camera because Mead didn’t activate his equipment, which the state report notes is likely a violation of departmental policy.

A spokeswoman for Baltimore County Police said Monday that an administrative investigation will begin now that the criminal investigation has concluded. The agency’s investigation will include a review of the Independent Investigations Division report, spokeswoman Joy Stewart said.

Mead is still employed by the department, Stewart said.

The report is the first to be released since the division began investigating statewide police-involved fatalities in October under police reform legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2021. The division is tasked with investigating such deaths and preparing a report with findings and legal analysis, but not making a prosecutorial decision.

In this case, the report considered a series of criminal statutes, including intentional second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

The analysis found it would be difficult for prosecutors to prove Mead didn’t act in self-defense, and that evidence suggested Mead “reasonably believed” Singleton posed an imminent or immediate threat of death.

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That conclusion was reached, the report said, because evidence indicated Mead fired his weapon in “immediate response to Mr. Singleton initiating fire”; the two men were close together when they exchanged gunfire; Mead thought he had been shot in the knee, and had reason to believe there could be other suspects in the area.

It adds that evidence doesn’t indicate gross negligent conduct caused Singleton’s death nor that Mead’s conduct was unreasonable.

In response to Coffin’s letter about not bringing charges against Mead and describing Singleton as running from Mead and firing at him, John Singleton, Jovan’s father, said he didn’t think his son would do “something like that.” John Singleton said Jovan had two children and had been afraid of police due to a past experience.

At the time, John Singleton had not seen the attorney general report. Family members were not available Monday to comment on the report.

Ryan Coleman, president of the Randallstown NAACP, called the shooting a tragedy because someone lost their life.

But he said that after reviewing the report, it seemed Mead “acted reasonably,” if he was being fired upon.

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“I think the process in this case worked,” said Coleman, referencing the new division’s investigation and analysis. “One good thing about the AG’s office looking into these things is we can get not a police view, but a separate view of what the facts are.”

The division’s report does note an inconsistency in Mead’s accounts of the number of shots exchanged. He initially told officers he’d fired three or four times, then wrote he’d fired six or seven times. He also initially said Singleton had fired three or four rounds, then told the investigators in written responses he didn’t know how many total shots had been fired.

He also said that Singleton “advanced toward me before and as I fired” — a description that is contradicted by Singleton’s gunshot wound, according to the report.

“The location of the entry wound indicates that Mr. Singleton had turned away when Lt. Mead fired the round that struck him,” the report said.

Mead provided a written statement and responses to the Independent Investigations Division’s questions, rather than submitting to an interview. He subsequently was interviewed by a Maryland State Police sergeant, at the request of Coffin, according to her letter declining to press charges.

That interview was not included in the report, but Attorney General Brian Frosh wrote in a response to Coffin this month that the division would issue a supplemental report, which has not yet been released.

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In a release Monday, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger thanked Frosh’s team for the “thoroughness” of the report, which he said allowed his office to perform an analysis of the case. Shellenberger added that it is his office’s position the shooting was justified, “based upon all of the facts and statements provided in the interview and the investigation.”

“Therefore,” Shellenberger said, “this office will not take action regarding Lt. Mead.”

According to the narrative provided in the report released Monday, the incident began when the 7-Eleven was robbed at gunpoint. A person matching the suspect’s description was captured on camera getting into a truck that drove away, before crashing into another vehicle about a mile away. The driver struck by the truck said three or four people fled.

Mead told investigators he heard about the robbery and hit-and-run and responded to the crash scene. On the way, he saw Singleton and tried to stop him for questioning. He asked Singleton to sit on a curb, but Singleton ran away.

During a foot chase, according to Mead, Singleton turned and fired at Mead. The lieutenant returned fire, he said, and then Singleton ran between two homes.

Mead said he was unsure which way Singleton was facing because he was “returning fire at a silhouette with a muzzle flash.”

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Mead radioed in about the gunfire exchange at 2:11 a.m. He said he had been shot, but an injury to his knee turned out not to be a gunshot wound. Redactions to the report remove information about the nature of the injury.

Redactions also block information about the search for Singleton. What’s left indicates Baltimore County Police “established a perimeter” and took some steps to try to find Singleton, but for “officer safety reasons,” a captain didn’t deploy a foot search right away.

Mead said in his written statement that after the shooting he was “concerned that there were other suspects in the area that had been involved in the armed robbery/bail out as I believe the two incidents to be related.”

No charges have been brought in the 7-Eleven robbery, Shellenberger said.

Maryland State Police, tasked with helping investigate the Independent Investigations Division cases, interviewed about two dozen neighbors in the days after the shooting. None saw it, but most heard gunshots, with four specifically stating they heard one or two shots, followed by a brief pause, then four to seven shots.

Neighbors also described hearing someone near their homes after the shooting.

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Singleton’s body was found by an officer around 7 a.m. in the yard of a nearby home. Blood was found on the home’s front porch, but the residents didn’t notice anyone trying to enter their home, the report said.

Investigators recovered two sets of bullet casings from the scene, about 37 feet apart. They included a single .380 caliber casing, which matched a Grendel handgun found about 50 feet from Singleton’s body, according to the report. Singleton’s DNA was found on the firearm and its magazine.

Eight 9 mm casings also were found, as well as a 9 mm bullet recovered from a car parked on the street. The casings and bullet came from Mead’s service weapon, a ballistics analysis found.

This was Mead’s first shooting incident, the report said. There were no internal affairs complaints against him found to be substantiated since his career began in 1996, it said.

It’s not clear why Mead didn’t activate his body-worn camera, as police policy requires. After the shooting, he told another officer he had been rushing to respond, but his written statement said he was trying to plug the cord into the battery as he left the station, according to the report.

“He gives no explanation as to why he did not successfully plug the camera cord into the battery, nor is there any indication that the equipment was broken or malfunctioning,” the report said.

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Mead was captured on another officer’s body camera using an expletive to say he knew his camera wasn’t on, but that he “just ran out of the precinct.”


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