Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The rifle used to kill a 13-year-old girl was found in a Baltimore City police officer’s car but that officer will not face criminal charges in connection with the girl’s death.
Derek Valcourt explains why the city state’s attorney will not press charges.
He says there’s not enough evidence, and that angers the victim’s family, who now moves full speed ahead with their civil lawsuit.
The gruesome discovery came in an alley seven months ago. Monae Turnage was found shot to death, her body buried beneath some trash bags. Two of Turnage’s young friends admitted to accidentally shooting her and then trying to hide her body in the alley. The rifle used to kill her was found inside the car of off-duty Baltimore officer John Ward, who knew the juvenile suspects.
“Right in his car, and they know that it was in there. Why is he getting away scot-free?” said Turnage’s stepfather, Ricky Bailey.
Bailey and Monae’s mother, Edith Turnage, are now frustrated by the contents of a letter from City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein. In it, he says after reviewing the evidence, he found an insufficient basis to press any criminal charges against Ward.
“I actually think they lost their mind,” said Edith Turnage. “Common sense will let you know…he knew.”
“We think that’s a horrible ruling in this instance,” said the family’s attorney, A. Dwight Pettit.
Pettit says based on what was disclosed in juvenile court, the officer should at least be charged with obstruction of justice. He also says prosecutors and police have so far refused to share any information about their investigation.
“So we are in the process of going forward with a civil suit, if not so much for the monetary damages but at least to get some discovery and answers for the family as to what took place,” Pettit said.
Without those answers, Turnage’s family will always wonder if any adults helped the juveniles try to cover up the killing.
“I think of that every day, every night. Even at work, I gotta go sit down sometimes, because I be looking at that girl living. Girl wanted to make something out of herself,” said Bailey.
The officer may not face criminal charges but he isn’t out of the woods just yet. The police department’s internal affairs investigation moves full speed ahead and may result in punishment for the officer.
The family’s civil suit is expected to be filed within days.
Turnage’s family members say the juvenile court punishment for the two boys who admitted to accidentally shooting Turnage amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist.