Federal judge: Baltimore County police officers ‘shot and killed a man who needed’ their help

A federal judge refused to throw out a lawsuit filed by the family of a man killed by Baltimore County Police in 2015, ruling that the department’s account of the shooting is “not consistent” with video of the man’s final minutes.

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Hollander wrote that almost no time lapsed between when officers used a third Taser on Jeffrey Gene Evans, who was undergoing a medical crisis after swallowing pills, and when they shot him to death. Further, the judge wrote, video shows the 52-year-old Bowleys Quarters man was not advancing toward police, as officers claimed, and posed no immediate threat.


“They shot and killed a man who needed [their] help. The video shows that, during this narrow window [between using the Taser and opening fire], Evans said “f--- you”, as the Officers claim,” the judge wrote. “Though vulgar, that turn of phrase does not ordinarily constitute a threat to safety, let alone one that justifies the use of lethal force.”

Hollander wrote that Evans was not armed when officers arrived at the home or when they suddenly deployed the first two of three Taser shots. A jury could reasonably conclude that the officers’ “hasty resort to violence here undoubtedly escalated the tension in the room,” Hollander wrote.


“Evans was outnumbered five to one, unarmed, and separated from four of the Officers by the kitchen island,” the judge wrote. “All of the Officers had a clear path to the stairwell leading to the first floor and front entrance.”

Still they fired two Taser rounds. Only after being struck twice did Evans run to his kitchen and grab a knife, holding it in the air, the judge wrote.

The Baltimore County Police declined to comment on the judge’s decision.

“We do not comment on pending or ongoing litigation matters,” police spokeswoman Joy Stewart said.

Evans’ family filed the lawsuit in 2018 against the county and several officers involved in the incident.

Evans was shot six times by three county police officers at his home on the morning of Dec. 14, 2015, according to the lawsuit and records from the incident.

Evans’ girlfriend had called police and reported that he had taken a large number of pills. A police officer and medics went inside the home in Bowleys Quarters in eastern Baltimore County and tried to talk Evans into going to the hospital, but he refused, the lawsuit says. Evans drank another beer in his kitchen before the police stun gun unit arrived.

More officers arrived and tried to persuade Evans to go to the hospital, but he continued to refuse.


“I’m not going to the f****** hospital,” Evans told the officers, court records show.

Hollander wrote that Evans had no weapons during that initial interaction.

“Evans was not armed, and he was physically separated from the Officers in such a way that a jury could find he did not pose a threat of harm,” the judge wrote. “Further, Evans was not resisting arrest. Indeed, he had not been placed under arrest, as discussed.”

The third shot with a stun gun was justified after Evans grabbed a knife, Hollander wrote.

But the judge said the situation never should have reached that point, and that the almost immediate decision to then shoot Evans with guns was not supported by the video evidence.

According to the lawsuit, the officers gave conflicting accounts of how Evans obtained knives and how many were in his hand at the time he was stunned and shot. Some officers said Evans held three knives. Other officers said he had two steak knives in his hand, according to court documents.


Multiple officers told Evans to drop the knives, but he replied saying, “f*** you,” and “you’ll have to shoot me,” court documents said.

The lawsuit alleges that officers used excessive force in violation of Evans’ civil rights.

Hollander noted in her opinion that it was obvious that Evans was not in his right state of mind and had not been posing a threat that required lethal force.

The officers who shot Evans, Officer 1st Class Michael Spahn, Officer Chad Canup and Officer Michael Pfadenhauer, were cleared of any wrongdoing and were not criminally charged by the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Two other officers, Michaela Moore and Officer 1st Class Adam Heavner, are also named in court documents.

The Evans estate is represented by attorney Ken Ravenell, who also represented the family of Korryn Gaines, who was shot to death by Baltimore County Police in 2016.


A jury awarded Gaines’ family $38 million, though the amount is under appeal.

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