No policy review found necessary after deaths of 3
suspects in Baltimore County
The Baltimore Sun
February 20, 2007
Laura Barnhardt, Sun Reporter
After police shot three people to death this year - including two in the
past week - Baltimore County police said yesterday the officers did
nothing wrong in the incidents and that a review of the department's use
of force policy is not necessary.
Although police have shot three people over a six-week period beginning
Jan. 6, the officers had been confronted by a suspect and a weapon in
each of the cases, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a county police spokesman. In
two of the incidents, including the most recent shooting Sunday,
officers had been fired on first, Hill said." These were all justified
uses of lethal force," said Hill. "They were well within the guidelines
of the use of force policy."
Police identified yesterday the 25-year-old Parkville man killed by
police early Sunday as Keith Showalter of the 2100 block of Lowells Glen
Road. Police said Showalter fired several rounds from a rifle at
officers. Two officers returned fire, Hill said.
Law enforcement experts say that an abrupt spike in shootings by police
in a given jurisdiction often is coincidental.
"It could be that crime is rising, not improper training," said Edward
Mamet, a former New York City commander who is a police policy
"If there's an inordinate amount - no shootings in two years and there's
a suddenly a rash - you'd ask, `What's the reason?'"
But there often is no way to pinpoint a single cause, he said.
"There's just no evidence" that one shooting by a police officer would
predispose other officers to shoot days or weeks later, said Thomas
Aveni, co-founder of the Police Policy Studies Council, a New
All shootings by Baltimore County police are evaluated by a five-member
panel in the department to determine whether officers should be returned
to duty and whether the use of force is justified under policy, Hill
The shooting review board members include the commanders of operations,
training, and internal affairs, as well as a firearms instructor and an
official from the department's legal section.
The officers who shot and killed the Parkville man Sunday were
identified yesterday as Officer Feelemyer, a five-year member of the
police force from the Towson precinct, and Officer Wingerd, a three-year
member from the White Marsh precinct.
The department does not release the first names of officers, under a
provision in the police union's contract. Both officers remained on paid
administrative leave yesterday, Hill said.
Police also are investigating a Feb. 12 shooting in eastern Baltimore
County during the arrest of a homicide suspect. In that case, a tactical
team officer shot and killed a 52-year-old man, who they said had
reached for a rifle and ignored police commands to stop.
A county officer shot a 21-year-old Pennsylvania man who was visiting
Essex on Jan. 6, after police said he fired a gun at officers who had
been chasing him in a car.
Police experts concur that no correlation appears to exist among the
shootings, given the circumstances of the incidents.
On Sunday, officers had gone to Showalter's condominium in response to a
call from his girlfriend. She said that he had a rifle and was
threatening to kill himself, Hill said.
Officers called Showalter to persuade him to surrender, but he refused,
Hill said. Showalter came out of the building with a rifle and fired
several rounds at officers just yards away.
The man's relatives could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Last year, there were eight shootings by police - two fatal - involving
Baltimore County officers, officials said.