BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Plenty of questions remain unanswered in a Baltimore County police-involved shooting. WJZ was the first to show you surveillance video of the shooting; Monday, police released that same video to the public.
Rick Ritter questioned the police chief on the incident.
Police identified the officer involved as Officer Olszewski, a seven-year veteran.
This is the first time Chief Jim Johnson has addressed the media since the shooting. He’s backing his officer’s actions, saying he exercised the training he was provided.
A Baltimore County police officer shot a man during a traffic stop in Middle River, leaving him hospitalized.
The incident has raised eyebrows across the country. Surveillance video shows a Nissan Altima pull up. The passenger got out as a police car approached. When his lights turned on, the Altima pulled away, leaving the passenger in the street with his hands in the air. As the officer approached seconds later, a closer look showed the man reach toward his waist. The officer was worried the man reached for a gun, so he fired, hitting him at least once.
Investigators say they did not find a gun on the suspect, but a loaded gun was found in the vehicle.
“The weapon was found in the passenger compartment of the car within reach of both the driver and passenger,” Chief Johnson said. “The officer was faced with a very challenging situation and certainly we believe he exercised the training he was provided.”
According to the ACLU, Baltimore County was in the top three state-wide for deadly police encounters in a four-year stretch, with 13. In 2015, they had six police-involved shootings alone. Four were fatal.
“You’re dealing with a very populated county, to begin with,” Johnson said. “We exhaustively look at that incident and certainly these issues are reviewed by the state’s attorney’s office.”
A review in this case that’s still pending.
Police ended up finding drugs and other paraphernalia in the car, as well. The driver, who was not shot, has also been charged.
The injured suspect remains hospitalized with charges pending.
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he’s always concerned when an officer discharges his weapon, but he’s confident Chief Johnson and state’s attorneys will investigate the facts around this incident.
Chief Johnson said they’ll know precisely what happened at the scene in the days ahead.
Johnson and Kamenetz both said they believe adding police body cameras will help in situations like this; that goes into effect July 1.
Police say Officer Olszewski has not been involved in any previous police shootings.