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Baltimore Police: Investigation Into Officer’s Death Complete

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Officer William Torbit

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A plainclothes officer was shot dead outside a Baltimore nightclub.  Now, four months later, it is still unclear how William Torbit was killed by fellow officers.

Weijia Jiang explains there is a new development in the investigation into the “friendly fire” shooting.

Since Baltimore police officer William Torbit Jr. was shot to death by fellow officers on Jan. 9, family, friends and even strangers have been demanding answers.

“But if we haven’t seen that, then we can only not just speculate but come to our own conclusion that you obviously are covering up the death of Officer Torbit,” said one.

Torbit, in plainclothes, was caught up in a massive fight outside the Select Lounge, when he shot and killed another man.  Four officers who didn’t know Torbit was one of their own fired on him.

“I’m optimistic we’ll be able to provide a full review within the next three weeks,” said Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld, the day after the shooting.

Three weeks stretched into nearly five months.  On Monday, homicide detectives finished their initial investigation, but will not release any details or even comment until the state’s attorney reviews it.

As the State’s Attorney’s Office goes through the police report, an independent panel put together by the mayor is also trying to figure out what went wrong that night.

“I wish it was over yesterday but we have to do things carefully and make sure it’s right.  That is how we honor the lives that are lost,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The panel is made up of national law enforcement experts, but many were hoping federal prosecutors would become involved to answer exactly how and why Torbit died.

“I think Mr. Bernstein has a responsibility to take those questions to the grand jury and lay out the facts in a most objective manner possible,” said attorney A. Dwight Pettit.

A spokesman for Baltimore state’s attorney Gregg Bernstein says there’s no timetable as to when he will decide how to proceed, but assures the office is closely reviewing the police report.

The officers involved in the shooting are on routine administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.

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