BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore County prosecutors now say an off-duty police officer was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot a man outside a Catonsville grocery store earlier this month.
Surveillance footage has been released of the incident authorities say shows the shooting was justified.
George Solis breaks down the video.
This all unfolded after the officer confronted the suspect, Christopher Clapp, in the grocery store parking lot. He had been accused of shoplifting.
The county’s top prosecutor says the video should leave little doubt the officer had no other option than to shoot Clapp. Authorities say the surveillance footage reveals why a police-involved shooting is justified.
Prosecutors from the Baltimore County state’s attorney office say what’s captured shows an off-duty officer who opened fire trying to regain his composure after being dragged away by the suspect.
Police say it all began after a parking lot confrontation that quickly escalated over shoplifting at a Catonsville Giant grocery store.
“It’s quite clear from the video as your viewers will hopefully see tonight that the officer was greatly in distress in being dragged,” says Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
The video, which was released by the county state’s attorney office records the entire series of events leading up the early-August shooting. It follows Clapp’s arrival and his trip into the store, where he had been accused of stealing detergent, among other household items.
The video shows Clapp leaving the store, with the off-duty officer identified as officer first class McCain in tow.
McCain was moonlighting as a security guard at the Giant, but per County Police Policy, he was not required to wear his police body camera.
The county state’s attorney says while the surveillance shows the officer was in the right, it still may be time to review the policy.
Clapp’s family questioned the lack of a body camera. Clapp’s brother told reporters the family is still waiting for answers.
“I just don’t believe that shoplifting means you should be killed,” he says.
Clapps’ brother is not yet commenting on the ruling.
Outside the store, people have mixed reaction to what happened.
“It’s kinda hard to judge somebody in a situation you’re not in. So, hard to be mad at either party here. It’s just a situation that shouldn’t happen in the first place if he wasn’t stealing,” says Matt Sikorski, from Catonsville.
The state’s attorney says the video also aligns with what witnesses saw, aside from the officer’s statement.
Officer McCain has been a veteran of the force for over 16 and a half years.