Baltimore police on Wednesday released body camera footage of a shooting that left a man hospitalized after he threatened people with knives at a bus stop.
It was the first time city police released footage that showed officers using potentially lethal force.
The shooting occurred Friday morning. The footage, downloaded from body cameras worn by two officers, shows them commanding a man holding two knives in his hands to drop the weapons. When the man refuses, one of the officers is shown deploying a stun gun to no effect. The officers then fire their service weapons.
The man was wounded and remained in the hospital five days after the shooting, but police say he is expected to survive.
Five officers in total responded to the scene, but only two were wearing cameras.
Baltimore police began rolling out a comprehensive program to equip all street officers with body-worn cameras in July. Commissioner Kevin Davis said Wednesday that the department now has “thousands and thousands of hours” of footage. This, however, is the first time police have captured a use-of-force incident with body cameras.
The officers and the man, who has been identified only as a 48-year-old Baltimore resident, are all African American. Authorities identified the officers as Gary Brown and Supreme Jones, both assigned to the Northern District. They have been placed on routine administrative leave.
Spokesman T.J. Smith said while officers were ordering the man to drop his weapons, he said, “I’ve got one life to live and I’m ready to give it … I did my job.”
The department is considering whether to file charges against the man, who has a history of mental illness and has made at least one recent suicide attempt. Smith said he is undergoing a medical evaluation.
“That’s concerning to us,” he said. “If mental health is the best route to go, we’re going to err on the side of mental health rather than criminality.”
“Let’s not kid ourselves: There’s a very real mental health aspect that’s very evident to us when we sit in the comfort of our very sterile environment and watch with the benefit of hindsight,” Davis said. “One of the questions I have is, how is someone who is apparently suffering from a mental health crisis like that … where along the line outside of law enforcement has that person been failed?”
“It continues to highlight the necessity of mental health to be bigger and broader than just the local police department,” Davis said.