Video: Baltimore officer fatally shoots man who fired at him

Spokesman T.J. Smith said they are "extraordinarily fortunate once again that we didn’t have an officer shot" that night


By Jessica Anderson
The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Baltimore police identified a 33-year-old man who was fatally shot by an officer Sunday night in Northwest Baltimore after a lengthy foot chase, during which police say the man fired at the officer.

Police department spokesman T.J. Smith said at a news conference Monday evening that Billy L. Rucker of Southwest Baltimore was shot after he pointed and fired a semi-automatic handgun at an officer, and later died at a hospital. Smith said Rucker was running from officers and dropped a pistol magazine during the chase, which ended on the median of Gwynns Falls Parkway.

Police released partial video from the officer’s body-worn camera, which Smith said shows Rucker start to turn toward to the officer. A muzzle flash from Rucker’s gun can be seen in the dark, shaky footage, Smith said.

“It is our thought that he probably thought he still had ammunition on him but he didn’t, fortunately enough,” Smith said. “We are extraordinarily fortunate once again that we didn’t have an officer shot last night.”

Smith said the officer fired multiple rounds but did not know how many times he struck Rucker.

Smith identified the officer as a six-year veteran of the department assigned to the Northwest District Action Team but did not release the officer’s name. The units, which are in each of the department’s nine districts, were rebuilt by former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis in July to combat the increase in homicides and shootings in the city.

Monday’s shooting is the second this year in which a Baltimore police officer has shot a person. Last week, an officer shot a 20-year-old Cockesyville man in the leg after police said he failed to drop his gun during a foot chase. The man was among a group who had been seen on city surveillance cameras arming themselves and were approached by officers, police said. He was charged with handgun violations. Last year, there were five officer-involved shootings, four of which were fatal, according to the department’s website.

The shooting involving Rucker occurred after officers attempted to pull over a red sport utility vehicle on Westwood Avenue for a traffic violation around 8:15 p.m. Sunday. Police said Rucker, the driver, drove off after stopping and that the officers followed from a police helicopter.

The officer who shot Rucker was not the officer who made the initial stop, police said. Police released body-worn camera video from the stop, which shows the officer walk up to the driver’s side window and, after a brief exchange of words, Rucker then pulls off. Smith said Rucker drops off two other individuals and continues driving while the Police Department’s helicopter follows.

Smith said Rucker and a female passenger ditched the car on an alley off Gwynns Falls Parkway in the Garwyn Oaks neighborhood.

Rucker and the female began walking down Gwynns Falls when officers on foot approached and Rucker took off running, police said. They said he ran through backyards and jumped a fence, when he dropped the gun magazine.

Rucker kept running until he reached the median on Gwynns Falls Parkway, where he drew his gun, turned and fired it before he was shot by the officer, Smith said.

The woman who had been walking with Rucker stayed behind and was stopped by officers without any incident, Smith said. She has not been charged with anything, he said.

Smith said Rucker also carried a replica handgun in a bag he kept with him during the chase.

The Baltimore City Council passed a law at the end of 2016 banning toy guns that look like working handguns or rifles after a 14-year-old East Baltimore boy holding a BB gun was shot by a city police detective months earlier.

Those caught owning, carrying or otherwise possessing a replica that could "reasonably be perceived to be a real firearm" face a $250 fine for a first offense. Fines would rise to $1,000 for second and subsequent offenses.

Neither the Police Department nor the state’s attorney’s office has information about the number of individuals charged under the law.

Melba Saunders, a spokeswoman with the state’s attorney’s office, said it does not collect data on the charge.

The Police Department also did not have information on such charges, but in recent months has identified a number of cases in which individuals carrying replica guns have been arrested on other charges, such as armed robbery.

In November, officers stopped a 15-year-old boy in Rash Field loading a gun that was later determined to be a replica. The same month, officers stopped a 13-year-old boy carrying a replica semi-automatic BB gun and a container of BBs in the area of Martin Luther King Boulevard at McCulloh Street. Both were charged as juveniles.

©2018 The Baltimore Sun

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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