Standoff shooting ruled justified

Sun Reporters

The Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office said yesterday that twopolice officers were "completely justified" when they fatally shot Joseph C.Palczynski on March 21, ending a hostage standoff and two-week rampage thatleft four people dead.

Deputy State's Attorney Sue A. Schenning said that after reviewing a 3-inchthick report by county homicide detectives, she has no doubt that OfficersFrank D. Barile and Robert O. Jones responded appropriately when they shotPalczynski.

"It was a clear-cut decision by this office that the shooting wasjustified," she said.

The decision angered Palczynski's mother, who said yesterday that her sonwas sound asleep on a couch and posed no danger to anyone when he was shot.

"The kid was sleeping," said Patricia Long. "He was out like a light, andhe didn't have a chance."

But Andrew McCord, who was held hostage for four days by Palczynski, alongwith his girlfriend and their son, said the officers helped save his son'slife. The boy, Bradley McCord, was in the Dundalk apartment when policestormed it.

"I feel like those officers did the right thing," Andrew McCord said.

Security experts said yesterday the fact that Palczynski was armed, that hehad threatened to kill police and that a child was still in the housesupported the officers' actions.

"As a police officer you have a responsibility for the lives of anyone elsein that house, and the question becomes: Is someone's life at risk?" saidRichard W. Kobetz, a former Chicago police officer who teaches hostageresponse techniques at the Executive Protection Institute in Virginia.

Palczynski's rampage began March 7 when he kidnapped his ex-girlfriend,Tracy Whitehead, from a Bowleys Quarters apartment and shot and killed threepeople who tried to help her. The next night, he killed a passing motoristduring an attempted carjacking.

After a 10-day manhunt that led police to Virginia and then back to BowleysQuarters, Palczynski stormed the Dundalk apartment where Whitehead's mother,Lynn Whitehead, lived with Bradley and Andrew McCord.

On the night of March 21, Lynne Whitehead slipped an anti-anxiety drug withsedative properties into Palczynski's iced tea and slipped out a first-floorbedroom window while Palczynski slept in the living room of the Lange Streetapartment. She was followed a few minutes later by Andrew McCord.

A team of police officers, including Barile, 36, and Jones, 37, rushed theapartment, shooting Palczynski and rescuing 12- year-old Bradley McCord, whowas asleep nearby in the kitchen.

The officers fired their MP 5's - 9 mm submachine guns capable of firing800 rounds per minute - and hit Palczynski 27 times as he began to rise from asofa. Police said he had a .357 Magnum revolver on his stomach and other gunsnearby.

Both officers were placed on routine paid administrative leave after theshooting and returned to active duty soon after.

County police spokesman Bill Toohey said the officers would not comment onthe case because an internal affairs investigation has not been completed.

Yesterday's decision was praised by the county Fraternal Order of Police."The process takes a long time to complete, but it's nice to see that afterthe thorough investigation that it worked out in this fashion," said ColeWeston, president of FOP Lodge 4. "It is clear those tactical officers werecalled upon to perform diligently on what they were trained to do. This rulingproves they acted appropriately and professionally.

"We can move on now," he said.

Andrew McCord and Lynne Whitehead have filed a notice that they intend tosue county police for not protecting them during the weeks Palczynski was onthe run.

The "notice of claim" - a preliminary step before a suit is initiatedagainst the county - was filed last month.

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