Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There are new details on what led up to the hours-long tense standoff between the Baltimore police force and one of their own 20-year veterans. Now that officer is accused of murdering his girlfriend, the mother of his four-year-old son.
Derek Valcourt has the startling new revelations in the case.
Police say what started as a domestic disturbance escalated when the off-duty cop shot his girlfriend in the head in front of his fellow officers.
It’s unclear what 49-year-old off-duty officer James Smith and his girlfriend, 37-year-old Kendra Diggs, were arguing about before the shooting that ended her life launched a five and a half hour standoff with police and left neighbors shocked.
“I can’t make sense of it,” said Tina Hunter. “It’s senseless.”
Police say it all began when two police officers were called to a house in the Sandtown Winchester neighborhood for a domestic disturbance.
Court documents reveal the responding officers kicked in the front door after they heard a woman yell “Help me, help me.”
Inside, Kendra Diggs was already bleeding from a small wound to her face.
According to court documents, one of the responding officers walked Diggs a few feet away to the front of the home to talk to her about what happened. They say that’s when Smith fired at her from the second floor window.
Shattered glass remains in that window where the shots were fired. Diggs collapsed to the ground with a bullet in her head. The responding officers ran for cover and called for help. Soon, SWAT teams converged on the area and evacuated neighbors as Smith locked himself inside the house, along with his four-year-old son.
It was hours before negotiators secured the four-year-old’s release and later secured Smith’s surrender.
“We just gave it time. We gave it time. We had our psychologist speaking with him and trying to calm him down and trying to calm down the scene,” said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
After Smith’s arrest, he apparently spoke to investigators and apologized for his actions.
But those who loved Kendra Diggs say an apology isn’t enough.
“She was a caring, loving person and I’m sad that she’s gone,” Hunter said.
Smith had been an Army Ranger. He had advanced tactical training and was so well respected in the department that when the president or other dignitaries would come to town, he would be assigned to take part in their motorcade.
Smith is being held without bail on charges of first degree murder.
Diggs was an MTA bus driver and mother to two kids, the four-year-old who was in the house and an older teenager who was not there.