Carroll County’s state’s attorney concluded that a Maryland State Police trooper, who fatally shot a Westminster man during an incident last month, acted within the boundaries of the law.
State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo announced on Friday that after reviewing the evidence collected through a state police investigation — which included numerous videos of the scene and interviews — he determined that Trooper First Class Tyler Michael “discharged his weapon based upon the reasonable belief that he, as well as other citizens, were in immediate danger of being seriously injured or killed,” according to a news release from the State’s Attorney’s Office.
According to DeLeonardo, the trooper “demonstrated an incredible amount of restraint as he continually sought to use verbal commands to get Michael D’Angelo to comply even after Mr. D’Angelo stabbed TFC Michael.”
“It is evident from my review of the videos taken by concerned citizens that TFC Michael attempted to avoid the use of deadly force even to the point of putting himself at further risk,” DeLeonardo said in the release.
Colonel William Pallozzi, state police superintendent, reinstated Michael to full-duty status within the agency, according to state police spokesman Greg Shipley. Michael had been placed on administrative leave — standard procedure after a trooper is involved in a shooting.
According to police accounting of the event, Michael was responding to a report of destruction of property when he encountered D’Angelo at about 8 a.m. on March 11 near Washington Road and Stoner Avenue. He attempted to talk to him, police said, but a struggle ensued and D’Angelo stabbed Michael before the trooper shot him.
D’Angelo, who was 34 and lived in Westminster, died after he was taken to Carroll Hospital.
Westminster police have previously said D’Angelo was responsible for 29 incidents of vehicle damage — ranging from slashed tires to broken windows — in the area of the shooting.
According to a previous news release from Westminster police, D’Angelo’s family told police that he suffered from mental illness.
“Mr. D’Angelo’s family has requested that police inform the public that Michael had a long history of suffering from mental illness,” the release said.
“What I found was consistent with that,” DeLeonardo said.
In determining whether the use of force was legal, he said that the knowledge of a mental illness can give more understanding of why the incident occurred, but “whether from mental illness or wanting to harm people, the danger is the same.”
D’Angelo had no previous criminal record.
When reached by phone Friday, a member of D’Angelo’s family declined to comment.
DeLeonardo said the standard for acceptable use of deadly force is that there was an imminent threat of serious harm or death to the individual or others around them.
“In this case, there was both,” he said.
From his review, he determined that Michael had been investigating reports of punctured tires in the area and came upon D’Angelo, who fit the description of an individual believed to be involved.
From the State’s Attorney’s Office’s investigation, they determined that D’Angelo turned around and stabbed Michael once in the side.
After that, Michael still tried verbally to de-escalate the situation, telling him to “Put the knife down, put the knife down,” DeLeonardo said. “He continued to do that even after deadly force had been applied to him.”
At the time, there were several other people in the area of the intersection, he said.
Ultimately, D’Angelo lunged at Michael again, and Michael shot him twice.
DeLeonardo felt that Michael showed restraint and attempted to get the situation under control before using deadly force.
“He really had no other option,” DeLeonardo said.
Lt. Rebecca Bosley, commander of the Westminster Barrack, previously said Michael is a military veteran who has been with the Westminster Barrack for six years, since he graduated from the police academy.
But the state’s attorney wanted to acknowledge the misfortune of the situation.
“When we clear the officer...It’s not without recognition that it’s a tragic situation. No one wanted Mr. D’Angelo to lose his life,” he said.