No Charges In Undercover Officer’s Death At Select Lounge

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A chaotic scene at a downtown Baltimore nightclub in January. It ends with a plainclothes police officer shot and killed at the hands of other officers responding to a fight. Prosecutors announce those other officers will not be charged.

Mike Schuh has more on the prosecutor’s decision.

It was clear that the prosecutor said that the other officers responding to that massive fight did not know that William Torbit was under cover. And though they fired 40 shots, 20 of which hit Torbit, they did nothing criminal.

While everyone agrees that what happened that night at Select Lounge in January is a tragedy, no police officers will be charged in the death of fellow Officer Torbit.

Outside that night was a fight involving a woman. Police say eight-year vet and undercover cop Torbit shoots to death a club-goer. In the ruckus, his badge is not seen by arriving officers who witness the shooting incident happen, and unleash over 40 shots. Nearly two dozen hit Torbit, killing him.

After what they feel is too much delay, Officer Torbit’s family put pressure on the city to punish the officers who shot him.

“We’ve come to our own conclusion that you obviously are covering-up the death of Officer Torbit,” a relative of Officer  Torbit said.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to provide a full review,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld.

Their investigation takes four months. Without making their findings public, the internal report is turned over to the prosecutor. At the same time, the mayor commissioned an independent review.

“I wish it was over yesterday,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “But we have to do things carefully and properly to make sure it’s right.”

In this case, from the prosecutor’s point of view, right doesn’t include charges.

“My responsibility is to determine whether there were any violations of criminal law caused by any intentional conduct on the part of these officers that would have amounted to a violation of criminal law,” said Gregg Bernstein, City State’s Attorney. “In that regard, I do not believe there is sufficient evidence.”

“That don’t fit right with me,” said Sherri Torbit,  the victim’s sister.

She believes police and prosecutors closed ranks.

“That’s what I believe,” she added. “Yes, it’s a cover-up.”

Bernstein denies that it is a cover up.

Thursday afternoon, the mayor says the case files will become public.

“Now that the prosecution’s made its decision, I’m having our law department review our investigative file,” Rawlings-Blake said. “We will review it and do what we need to do to make it available for the public as soon as possible.”

This case did not go before a grand jury. Bernstein made the decision. The mayor’s review will be out in a couple of weeks and is expected to focus on operational and possible training breakdowns within the department.

Though no criminal charges will be filed, it is possible the families of both dead men could sue the city and the officers in civil court.

More from Mike Schuh
  • Really


  • Ex-Baltimore

    When you club with the black folks of Baltimore, you can always expect violence. I’ve never seen a city this violent. Unless you go to Baghdad, I guess.

  • Commenter

    Thats because when you get most young black folks together in settings like that in Baltimore and a lot of other places too not only Baltimore they act like savages PERIOD

  • Commenter

    When something starts going bad

  • lou fields

    the cops who shot into a crowd of people were not all black. only shots fired by polince officers, not civilians.

    when whites kill other whites little little ms anthony and the fella in you blame blacks for these killings?

  • Gert Watson

    I have no doubt that the attorney and the DA “closd ranks”; I do beluieve that the whole thingswas a sham and that the result was a cover up; there is no justice for the family, here. Those “peopole” used the man as target practice. One well placed shot can disable, permanently disable or kill a person; after going through the procedure to obtain a gun permit and practicing with the state police’s program, I know that! Once, again, the BCP have gotten away with murder. I hope the family sues and stays on this situation. Condolences for the family of the slain.

  • NoChanceAtAll

    Dam they shotthisgotdamman 20 times!!!! Oh, they also missed 20 times!!!!
    Baltimore has got to be the most dangerous place to live.. The police will kill ya and the criminals will kill ya!!! It is full of gotdam idiots!!

    • Crazy!

      20 of those bullets came from Torbit’s gun. Let’s not forget he started the shooting, and if he would have taken his ass whooping like a man instead of drawing and firing his gun, he’d still be alive today.

  • cant belive

    Wow wow wow really!!!!!!! Its super clear that will officer torbit was murdered!!what happen to freeze drop ur wepon????this is a total slap n the face to the torbit family n friends.he gave his life tryn to clean up this f up city. N to rollings blake enjoy ur last dayz n office big lips….

    • Crazy!

      Yeah, it’s super clear Torbit was murdered because his fellow officers had it out for him. This has got to be the stupidest comment I’ve ever read on

  • Ex-Baltimore

    I hate when blacks go around with blinders on say dumb and crazy stuff about “violent whites”. Look, whites do kills also, but only on occasion and directed at very specific targets like in domestic violence or a mass shooting every few years like in Norway. What I mean is the everyday typical senseless violent crime like stree shooting, drive-by’s, and nightclub or other public venue violence that seems so common and predictable from Black Baltimoreans. Look at all the animal-like violence blacks from Baltimore committed on the 4th of July at the Inner Harbor. I mean, these people are absolute and completely out of control savages. I’ve personally been to public events where large groups of baltimore City blacks show up and complete chaos erupts. Predictably, it first starts out as loud and ignorant behavior that then quickly escalates into shouts of profanity, verbal threats, insults and then either punching, kicking, stomping, stabbbing and then gunfire. Trust me, I know the pattern because I’ve witnessed this rapid decline of civility at parties, picnics, clubs, and concerts. This is why I got fed up and no longer party with Baltimore area black people. These people are just too uncivilized and are a danger to public safety.

    • Peter Smith Jr.

      I appreciate your open response, but disagree on the notion that all blacks are savage like and ignorant. Allow me to expand my thoughts. Obviously you are in a box and have only seen one side of the black culture. The angle you see is the degrading and debilitating issues we face in the inner city. Where do you hang out? Where do you club? Obviously its not in the best settings if this is a occurrence for you.You can not blame the actions of some and say its is all. I understand your comment and I would be clear to say that some do act like savages. As I can say that some whites act like savages as well. This can be applied to all races. To say it is part of our racial structure is completely false. I encourage you to reach out to black professionals to see the other side. You will be surprised what you see.

      Best regards

  • Chris

    I’ll add this. It isn’t about Black and white anymore, and that’s a fact, and an excuse blacks use today. They have a false sense of entitlement, taught by there parents, a chip on there shoulders from birth because of it. They are there own worst enimies. Black on black crime is rampient. The only time a white is involved is if they get in the way. When they learn that the way out of poverty is the classroom, not a gun and the drugman on the corner, there will be hope for them, but not until! If the jails are full of blacks, more so than whites, it’s because of how they are rasied, not the color of there skin. Even there entertainers promote the crime lifestyle, there doomed before they start. It’s there parents and culture that needs to change.

    • Peter Smith Jr.

      Hello Chris,
      I appreciate your open response. I like to hear how other races fill about blacks/African Americans in a constructive manner. Your comment sheds light on a class I once took in my undergrad called Cultural Diversity. Cultural and environmental factors play into why violence is so high amongst some major area black communities. These communities are lower class areas consistent with fighting poverty and broken home structures. These variables affect youths upbringing thus not allowing them to develop and understand morals, values and respect for elders and authority. You can see how this is a domino affect when trying to fit into society. Yes I agree that upbringing needs to change–and needs to change in the home first. I know this conversation has gone beyond the original post, and I do apologize for expanding on your comment and moving away from the original discussion. I would encourage you to look beyond what your perception is of black individuals and seek out black professionals for a deep and intellectual conversation about what role we play. I believe your dominating statements of an entire race may change. Enjoy your day.

  • City

    I haven’t seen the report and wasn’t at the club. I have a different scenario, Officer Torbit may not have discharged his weapon until after being shot, because he was in position with his gun out; the other officers approached the area and noticed a man with a gun pointed at a person, so they fired at him as he was being shot officer Torbit reflex squeezed the trigger on his revolver, which created the discharge from his weapon…

    • Crazy!

      No, he pulled his gun, fired, and killed Sean Gamble because he was kicking his ass. The other police officers arrived, saw a man with a gun, and did what they were trained to do…..shoot.

      • ctfu

        Ctfu!!!!! If u dont know the whole truth further more idiot how could u not know somone not only from ur district but u were just n f n roll call with

  • Kurt

    I think this is crazy how in the world can anybody let off 40 shot and 20 go into someone and the people who do the shoting are not hold accountsable. And then they want citizen to come and be jury panel. How can u believe in justice after that. Blake I hope ur ass is out of here as fast as they bought ur aSs though the door.

  • Sherrell

    The mayor sucks…commissioner sucks we need an,outsider to come handle thid,damn justice..that was my cousin..god gonna get al yall crooked city of baltimore officials…watch

  • Terry Navarro

    As a law student we are taught repeatedly to charge “criminals” with EVERY conceivable charge possible. Meaning, the officers should have been charged with everything from murder I down, including the use of excessive force. I’ve seen nowhere that the charge of excessive use was ever introduced. Once charges were brought, the incident should have gone to a Grand Jury and they alone would/should have determinded if there was sufficient evidence to proceed. When one’s own agency “invesitagtes” you one of two things will always happen: (1) your superiors like you and therefore will do their own investigation and get you off or (2) your superiors dislike you and will investigate and then hang you out to dry. Coming from the perspective of a straight ‘A ‘student, it is in mho that this was indeeed a coverup.

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