A 26-year-old Black man died early Saturday morning when a police chase ended in a single-car crash in Catonsville, and a new unit of the Maryland attorney general’s office, created to examine civilian deaths involving law enforcement officers, is investigating.
The attorney general’s office said a Maryland Transportation Authority Police officer had seen the man commit a traffic violation at Conway Street and Interstate 395 in downtown Baltimore, and that the silver Chevrolet Monte Carlo he was driving was weaving and speeding as it merged onto southbound Interstate 95.
The officer pulled the man over, but as he approached on foot, the Monte Carlo sped off, the attorney general’s office said. The officer followed him onto Interstate 695 and down a Wilkens Avenue offramp, where authorities said he hit a median and was ejected from his car at approximately 2:46 a.m.
The officer gave first aid until paramedics arrived. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
The incident was captured on a dashboard camera and microphone and the attorney general’s office said the recording will be released to the public, likely within the next two weeks. The Maryland State Police’s crash team is also assisting in the investigation.
Authorities did not identify the man who died or the officer.
The attorney general’s office is reviewing the death under a state law that went into effect Oct. 1, passed earlier this year as part of a large legislative package of police reforms. Attorney General Brian Frosh hired Dana Mulhauser, who founded a similar investigative unit in St. Louis, Missouri, to lead the new division in June.
The reforms came after nationwide protests last summer against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd while being restrained by police. People killed while in police custody, including Freddie Gray in Baltimore in 2015 and Anton Black in Caroline County in 2018, were cited by Maryland activists as reasons for the changes.
James Kruszynski, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 34, which represents the transportation authority police, said the union “has total confidence” that there would be “a thorough and impartial investigation of the facts concerning this unfortunate incident.”
The package of legislation also changed how officers accused of misconduct are disciplined, created a new statewide standard for officer use of force, imposed new criminal penalties for use of excessive force and made some police disciplinary records open to the public.
In exploring what caused the crash, the attorney general’s new independent investigations division will create a report to hand over to the state’s attorney for Baltimore County, the jurisdiction in which the death occurred, a spokeswoman said.
The division is up and running, spokeswoman Raquel Coombs said. But the attorney general’s website shows several job postings to staff the office, including a victim and witness specialist.
And the office is actively seeking investigators with experience in “criminal and/or internal affairs investigations.” Applications are being accepted through Friday.