BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An investigation continues into whether a Baltimore City police officer was justified in pulling out his gun and pointing it in the direction of a crowd on Sunday.
Derek Valcourt has more on the fallout from a photo that’s launched an online debate.
The officer is now on administrative duty while police investigate what led him to unholster his gun.
We don’t know who the officer is but we do know freelance photographer Noah Scialom took this picture of the officer with a gun in his hand pointing it in the direction of a group of people along Reisterstown Road Sunday night. Police had been called there to disperse a large gathering of illegal dirt bikers and their spectators.
Witnesses say some people in the crowd threw objects, including a glass bottle at the group of officers seconds before the photo was taken.
“In the picture, you can see another officer looking at him and it seemed to me they had words right after that,” Scialom said. “And it seemed to me she told him to put it away, that was not a good idea. And he puts it away and it was over as quick as it started.”
Photos like this are more evidence of the impact technology is having on policing. With a camera in just about everyone’s hands, almost every action taken is now under intense public scrutiny.
“You have to remember in this day and age, it’s more difficult to be an officer now than in any time in history, in my opinion,” said Rob Weinhold, Fallston Group.
Policing and public relations expert Rob Weinhold says officers are allowed to draw their weapons if they are in—or about to be in—a situation that poses a risk of serious bodily injury or death. He cautions against rushing to judgment.
“That officer, we don’t know what he heard, what he saw,” Weinhold said. “He will have to articulate that to the police department to justify his actions.”
The mayor tells WJZ she called the police commissioner and asked him to investigate what happened after she saw the photo online. The investigation continues.
Police say no one was injured or even arrested in Sunday night’s incident.