A 41-year-old man who was fatally shot outside his Northeast Baltimore home this week may have been deprived of prompt medical attention for hours by a policing error.
The Baltimore Police Department confirmed that it is conducting a “full review” of its response to the shooting of Harold J. Blandon Jr. after determining that a young officer who was dispatched about 6:30 p.m. Monday to multiple reports of gunfire near Blandon’s home instead went to a slightly different location a block away — and may not have investigated correctly once there.
The officer reported finding no evidence of a shooting.
Six hours later, paramedics responded to a separate call for a man who wasn’t breathing, again near Blandon’s home in the 1600 block of Stonewood Road, and found Blandon’s body on his front steps with multiple gunshot wounds, police and fire officials confirmed.
Matt Jablow, a police spokesman, said Blandon’s condition when found — amid bitter overnight temperatures — suggested he had been dead for a while, and police believe he was likely wounded in the earlier reported gunfire.
Because of that, the department is “conducting a full review of the incident,” Jablow said, “and if any officers were found to be negligent, they will be disciplined.”
Police have no suspects in his killing, Jablow said.
A preliminary review has indicated the officer who responded to the earlier reports went in error to the 1500 block of Stonewood Road instead of the 1600 block, and police are trying to determine the reason, Jablow said. But the department is also investigating whether the officer ever got out of his vehicle to look for potential victims, shell casings or other evidence of a shooting once he arrived in the area — as is required when responding to reported gunfire, Jablow said.
As part of that review, the department is assessing the officer’s body-camera footage, he said.
“We do know that he spoke to, it looks like, two people, residents, to ask if they had seen or heard anything, from his car, and they both said, ‘No,’” Jablow said.
The officer also looked down alleys from his vehicle, but in the wrong block, Jablow said.
Jablow declined to name the officer, but said he is 25 years old and was hired to the force in 2017. It was not immediately clear what kind of discipline the officer could receive, if any, if it is found his investigation of the reported gunfire did not match protocol.
Sgt. Michael Mancuso, president of the local police union, said that “it sounds like a lot of unknowns” when asked about the review Wednesday.
“Calls for shots fired come out all day long in broad terms. This isn’t a town where shots fired aren’t happening all the time,” he said. “Without more information, it’s really hard to put responsibility on the officer.”
“What are you going to do, walk the neighborhood for an hour and see what you can find?” Mancuso said. “You do the best you can do, and you move on.”
Blandon’s home is just across Hillen Road from the campus of Morgan State University.
Larry Jones, a university spokesman, said he wasn’t aware of the shooting as of Wednesday afternoon, but would look into it. Later, he could not be reached.
Blandon’s family could not be reached for comment Wednesday. No one answered the door at his home, where the front steps were covered with a large amount of salt and bits of melting ice — the apparent signs of a crime scene washed clean in cold temperatures.
A pair of purple medical gloves lay on the ground near the steps, as well, not far from a crumbled page of a Baltimore Police report, blank but for the page header: “Continuation of Narrative.”
The department first acknowledged their review of the case after being asked about it by The Baltimore Sun late Tuesday, and after having put out an incorrect chronology of events surrounding the shooting Tuesday morning.
Blair Skinner, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Fire Department, said medics were first dispatched to the block about 12:19 a.m. Tuesday. While en route, she said, the medics received information from police that the incident may be related to a shooting, she said. But when the medics arrived at the scene about 12:25 a.m., there were no police officers there, she said.
Skinner said she did not know how police knew the incident might be related to a shooting prior to their arrival on the scene, which she said was at 12:34 a.m. Medics cleared the scene at 1:06 a.m. after handing it over to police and homicide detectives, she said.
Bruce Goldfarb, a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office, which determines cause of death in homicides, said his office cannot comment on open investigations.
Blandon had been shot before — nearly six years ago to the day.
On Jan. 25, 2013, Blandon, then 35, was shot at the Lutherville Light Rail Station while heading home to the corrections re-entry facility in Baltimore where he was living at the time as part of an inmate work-release program, according to Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services officials.
Blandon was enrolled in the work-release program while serving a 24-year sentence for attempted murder, after being found guilty in June 2001 in Baltimore Circuit Court of attempted first-degree murder and receiving a 30-year sentence with six years suspended, according to online court records.
A corrections spokesman at the time said those selected for the work release program were “carefully selected based upon compliance, institutional record and behavior, time already served, and potential release date,” and that Blandon had been complying with the terms of the program at the time.
Gerard Shields, a current corrections spokesman, said Blandon was released in April 2016 under mandatory supervision, had been reporting to probation every other month, was employed at a Walmart store in Cockeysville and “hadn’t been arrested for anything since he was released.”