BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An independent state investigation into a Baltimore County police shooting last fall found it would be difficult to prove an officer did not act in self-defense when he shot and killed a robbery suspect, a report released Monday by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office shows.

The report prepared by the Independent Investigations Division was based on an investigation into the circumstances and evidence surrounding the deadly Oct. 11, 2021, shootout involving Baltimore County Police Lt. Gregory Mead and 36-year-old Jovan Lewis Singleton of Baltimore. Singleton died at the scene.

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According to the Attorney General’s Office, a copy of the report was provided in late March to the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, which later decided not to prosecute Mead, a 25-year veteran of the Baltimore County Police Department, for his role in the incident.

The report—which does not make charging recommendations—found that evidence supported Mead’s statement that Singleton fired upon him first before he returned fire, and it found that Mead “reasonably believed Mr. Singleton posed an imminent or immediate danger of death or bodily harm, and that the amount of force used was reasonable in the circumstances.”

Mead was responding to a hit-and-run crash in Woodlawn about 2 a.m. that day that was believed to be related to an armed robbery at a 7-Eleven store on Windsor Mill Road near Woodlawn Drive. Authorities said the suspects were running from police when their car crashed and they bailed out of the vehicle. At some point, Mead came across Singleton and they exchanged gunfire. Singleton was found dead a short time later, a .380-caliber handgun was found nearby.

An autopsy found Singleton was shot once in the upper back. The bullet traveled from his back, through his shoulder blade, ribs and lung and stopped in his neck.

While the entry wound signaled that Singleton had turned away from Mead at the time of the shooting, undermining the lieutenant’s statement that Singleton was advancing towards him, investigators noted that “it is possible that Mr. Singleton turned to flee after Lt. Mead began shooting.” It went on to say “there is no available evidence to either support or rebut this possibility.”

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Investigators also found that Mead’s statements about the number of rounds fired were inconsistent with the evidence. While Mead initially said he and Singleton each fired three to four rounds, the lieutenant later provided a statement saying he heard Singleton fire twice while he fired six or seven rounds. The physical evidence found that Singleton fired once and Mead fired eight times.

The report also pointed out that Mead never activated his body-worn camera, saying it was “likely a violation of BCPD department policy,” which requires offices to activate cameras during stops, pursuits and arrests. Mead told another officer he did not switch it on because he was in a rush, but in a written statement said he was “trying to plug the body camera cord into the battery.”

Mead declined to answer when state investigators asked about the camera. The report also noted that four minutes passed between the hit-and-run call and a radio call Mead made during the incident. “Lt. Mead’s later statement that ‘I’m (expletive) with the camera. I just ran out of the precinct’ suggests that his failure to activate the camera could have been an oversight, and that he recognized this failure was improper,” the report stated.

The report found that despite those issues and inconsistencies, physical evidence and witness testimony suggested Mead most likely shot at Singleton within seconds of being fired upon. Based on that, a knee injury that hobbled him, the belief that he might have been wounded and the lack of backup nearby, “it would be difficult” to prove that his perception of “imminent danger was unreasonable.”

Mead had not been involved in any prior shootings and there were no internal affairs complaints to him that were ever substantiated. The report noted that the 48-year-old agreed to be interviewed but under conditions the Attorney General’s Office found acceptable, so instead he provided a written statement and responses to written questions.

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The Independent Investigations Division, which was formed in response to 2021 police reform legislation, investigates all deaths at the hands of police.

CBS Baltimore Staff