A West Baltimore man’s family is grieving for the 26-year-old who died early Saturday morning during a pursuit by a Maryland Transportation Authority Police officer in Baltimore County.
The Independent Investigations Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, which now investigates all deadly uses of force by police officers across the state, identified the victim Monday as 26-year-old Jawuan James Ginyard of Baltimore.
“His touch to people ... he had a wide reach. Everybody that came in contact with him loved him,” said his brother, Jamaul Ginyard. “He would give the shirt off his back.”
The agency also identified the officer involved in the pursuit as Theodore Jeremenko of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department, a 10-year-veteran of the department.
Barbara Ginyard, Jawuan Ginyard’s grandmother, said Monday that she was too upset to talk about her grandson.
“I’m going through a lot because I’m the one that had to identify him,” she said.
The death is one of two in recent days that will be the first to be investigated by the new unit in the Attorney General’s Office, which is now responsible for investigating all in-custody deaths as part of a large legislative package of police reforms passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.
The unit also is investigating Baltimore County Police officer’s shooting Monday of one person in Woodlawn. In that incident, county police said officers were responding to a robbery call at a 7-Eleven store, when a suspect was involved in a hit-and-run while attempting to escape from officers. After the crash, police said the suspect bailed out of the vehicle and a Baltimore County Police officer found the suspect and the two exchanged gunfire.
The officer was injured in the encounter but not shot, the department said. The suspect, who has not yet been identified, was later found dead. The police officer who fired his gun did so once, according to a preliminary police investigation. He has been placed on administrative leave.
Meanwhile, Jamaul Ginyard said he and Jawuan and two other brothers were raised by his grandmother in West Baltimore after their father died before he was born and their mother died a few years later
“He was a family man with a huge personality,” he said.
Jawuan was a father of two girls, 8 and 2 years old, and was in the U.S. Navy before being medically discharged a few years ago, Jamaul said.
Jamaul Ginyard said his family has been fielding texts, phone calls and visits since Saturday from those who knew his brother to express how much they loved Jawuan.
“Once they said ‘Wuan was hurt,” family and friends flooded the scene of the accident, Jamaul said.
His brother remembers Juwuan as the “life of the party,” someone who easily struck up conversations with anyone he met.
“We all want to wake up from this dream,” he said.
The Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that Jeremenko had seen Ginyard commit a traffic violation at Conway Street and Interstate 395 in downtown Baltimore, and followed him onto Interstate 95, where he attempted to stop the vehicle. Ginyard was speeding, and weaving out of traffic, the office said.
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Jeremenko followed Ginyard onto Interstate 695, then down a Wilkens Avenue offramp, where Ginyard hit a median and was ejected from his car, the office said. Ginyard was pronounced dead at the scene.
Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office, said its new Independent Investigations Division is working on both investigations.
“These two incidents were in very close succession, but the unit is charged with the responsibility with thoroughly investigating these types of incidents, and we have highly skilled, highly professional people who lead this unit,” Coombs said. “They are prepared to fulfill this duty.”
Dana Mulhauser, who founded a similar investigative unit in St. Louis, heads the new division.
Before the new law took effect, some local law enforcement officials expressed concerns about the change, including possible long wait times for investigators to respond to crime scenes across the state, and whether the new unit has enough staff.
Dave Rose, president of the Baltimore County FOP Lodge #4, said he would like to see an “after incident critique” to review how the new process works.
“I’m sure we will all discover things that could have been done differently to improve the investigative process,’ Rose said Monday.