Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s anger and frustration in one Baltimore neighborhood after police chase a suspect and then open fire. Now that suspect is dead.
Police say they fired in self-defense, but some witnesses are telling a different story.
Derek Valcourt has new details, including the identity of the suspect.
He’s 25 years old and the father of a little boy. Some are now questioning the police action that led to his death.
It was Donte Bennett shot to death by police Wednesday night at a Douglas Homes courtyard. One witness snapped photos in the moments after the shooting as officers waited for an ambulance to arrive and rush Bennett to the hospital.
Police say they had intelligence that a crime was about to occur at a nearby business, and when they saw their suspect, Bennett, he started running. Officers chased him directly in front of the home where Dante Richardson stays.
“Four undercover officers, they was on the young man’s back. I heard the one officer that wasn’t holding him say, ‘If you don’t put the gun down, I’m going to shoot you.’ And right after he said that, that’s when the shots went off,” said Richardson.
Police say, fearing for their lives, three officers fired shots, though how many shots remains unclear. Commanders promise a thorough investigation.
“I welcome those citizens and any citizens that may have witnessed this to come forth. We will interview any and all witnesses and will get to the bottom of this,” said Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez, Baltimore City Police.
There were plenty of witnesses who saw it. Some argue police went too far.
“He was holding onto the gate for dear life. I don’t think they had to shoot him or kill him,” said Tyesha Teal.
Look closely and you can see what witnesses say was a gun laying near Bennett’s body. Witnesses say Bennett held a cell phone in his right hand, and may have been reaching for his gun with his left hand. Bennett’s family confirms he was left-handed.
Bennett has a long criminal past that includes convictions for resisting arrest, attempting to elude police and concealing deadly weapons.
Bennett’s mother says she did not learn of her son’s death until late Thursday morning. Bennett’s body has been taken to the medical examiner’s officer for an autopsy.
The three officers involved in the shooting have been placed on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.