ELKRIDGE, Md. (WJZ) — Police have identified the suspected impaired driver who was shot and killed by a Maryland State trooper overnight. Police said the man was shot after he dragged the trooper along I-95 as he attempted to flee a traffic stop in Howard County.
The incident happened just after 2 a.m. Friday on northbound I-95 near Rt. 100 in Elkridge.
Maryland State Police identified the suspect as 36-year-old Julio Cesar Moran-Ruiz from Baltimore.
In a press conference Friday morning, State Police Superintendent Col. Woodrow W. Jones III shared preliminary information about the investigation into the shooting.
Police said a uniformed trooper in a marked police vehicle stopped a suspected impaired driver after seeing a red Ford Escape weaving across multiple lanes of I-95. The driver pulled over to the right shoulder.
When the trooper approached the car, officials said he saw the male driver was impaired and saw several alcohol beverage containers in the car. The trooper requested backup to help him conduct a field sobriety test, which police said is standard procedure.
The trooper asked the driver to exit the vehicle several times, police said, but the man refused. He also provided a false name to the trooper. That’s when the man put the vehicle in drive. The trooper tried to remove the keys from the ignition, but instead the suspect accelerated, dragging the trooper more than 2,000 feet down the interstate.
“The trooper yelled repeatedly at the driver, telling him to stop and warning him that he would shoot,” Jones said. “The driver refused and continued to accelerate down the interstate.”
Police said the trooper feared for his life and shot the driver and was thrown from SUV and into the center median. Another trooper found the injured trooper not far from where the car eventually came to a stop.
The trooper, a three-year veteran, suffered injuries to his lower extremities and was taken to Shock Trauma for treatment. He was treated and released, police said.
The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said troopers also found a machete under the driver’s seat within hand’s reach of the driver. They also found alcoholic beverage containers inside his Ford Escape.
Police did not specify whether the trooper knew about the machete or if Moran-Ruiz threatened him with it.
State police superintendent would not say if machete found in vehicle was ever used to threaten trooper; trooper is a 3-year veteran of the force. @wjz
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) August 28, 2020
Both troopers at the scene were placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues. There is dashcam video of the incident that will be under review, but troopers do not wear body cameras.
Jones has not committed to releasing the dash-cam video of the incident and said the Howard County State’s attorney is still investigating. Any release of video will be made in consultation with prosecutors, he said.
WJZ listened to the police radio dispatch recordings which provide insight into how the incident and response unfolded.
Police rushed to shut down the interstate and get a medevac chopper to the scene.
Due to the extensive area of the scene along northbound I-95, morning traffic had to be diverted around the area. MDOT State Highway Administration personnel responded to assist with detours.
The interstate remained closed between Routes 100 and 195 for police activity throughout the morning, reopening around 9 a.m.