Baltimore police cleared in fatal multiple shooting of father, son

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- No charges would be filed against two police officers who fired 56 unanswered rounds and killed an armed father and son in East Baltimore earlier this year, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

"We have concluded that there is no legal basis to charge these officers, who appear to have prevented even further violence on the streets of Baltimore," prosecutors wrote in an email to the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

The shooting occurred at the end of March when the two policemen, who were on unmarked patrol with another police officer, saw Matthew V. Wood, 43, and Kimani Johnson, 18, drive into the block near a playground and emerge from a vehicle with weapons.

The police said they believed the father and son were poised to shoot a group of people across the street, though after the gunfire police determined the dual had not fired any shots. The third officer at the scene didn't fire his weapons.

Tawanda Johnson, Kimani's mother, said in a phone interview with the newspaper on Tuesday that she had not been told that prosecutors had declined to charge the officers and felt upset with the decision and an overall lack of information provided about the case.

"They wouldn't shoot a stray dog 56 times," she said. "They shot my son as if he meant nothing."

An autopsy showed Johnson was shot 12 times, in his body, arms, legs and head. Wood was struck eight times, also in the body, arms, legs and head.

The third officer who did not fire, Reginald Jones, told police investigators that the officers had been in the area due to violence and drug complaints when they saw Wood open the driver's side door and emerge with a rifle in his lap.

But Kimani's mother argued that the fact that Jones did not fire "says to me his life was not in jeopardy".

"Something is fishy. It's been fishy from day one." she lamented.

The police report said there were "several" CCTV cameras in the surrounding area but they captured "nothing of evidentiary value."

The dead father was found with an assault rifle loaded with 25 rounds, while Johnson had a 9 mm Ruger handgun loaded with seven rounds, according to the police, adding that both of them had gun charges on their record.

The two police officers have already returned to full duty, though an internal review of the case is still pending, said the Baltimore Sun report.

One of them, Sgt. Joseph Wiczulis, has been involved in two previous fatal shootings since 2010, including an incident in which he shot a man who had shot two officers. In 2013, he also shot and killed a 25-year-old man with a handgun. He was also cleared of criminal wrongdoing in both cases.

Despite the increased tensions between police and black communities across the country in recent years, charges against officers remain rare, with prosecutors affirming police actions, said the report.

Baltimore City officers so far have shot nine people this year, killing four of them. Six cases remain under review by the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office.

[ Editor: Xueying ]
 

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