Wandering Eye: Brian Frosh's legislative priority, BPD releases a shooting report, and more

The Baltimore Police Force Investigation Team has posted its report of a year-ago shooting of an armed robber who was caught while carrying a cash drawer out of a 7-Eleven. Here is the WBAL version of the original story. The officer, a 24-year veteran named Betavia Elliott, spotted the clerk's hands up, parked to one side, and tried to get a look at the robber. But the robber—not named in this report but charged in federal court—came out the front door and, in response to Betavia's commands to show his hands, "suddenly jerked as if startled." Betavia fired two shots—one of which struck a nearby vehicle, the other of which went through the robber's thigh. The robber fell between two parked cars, Batavia "slowly and tactically walked around several vehicles" to get to the robber and hold him at gunpoint while awaiting medics and police backup. Batavia stated that he feared for his life when the robber—who turned out to be unarmed—emerged from the store. He was otherwise incoherent. The report quotes him: "I just knew that when . . . , whoever came out of there should have nearly did whatever it was I told them to do. I feared for my life and it could have been the next person that came out. Stop! . . . Police! . . . Freeze! . . . let me see your hands!" The shooting is deamed to be justified and done according to policy and training. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


New Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has announced his top legislative priority in this year's Maryland General Assembly session: adoption of the Maryland False Claims Act, a proposed whistle-blower statute that would establish incentives and protections for employees who report fraud by government contractors. It would augment the existing whistle-blower laws, which apply only to health care fraud. Not in the works this year, though, is boosting another crime-fighting tool that's languished on the books since it was passed in 2007: the Maryland Gang Prosecution Act (MGPA), which is hamstrung by difficulties in legally defining who is a member of a criminal gang. A 2010 effort to morph the MCPA into something closer to an actual Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, modeled on what the federal government and three dozen other states have in their toolbox, failed, and so far nobody has had the tenacity to try again. Frosh voted in favor of the MCPA in both 2007 and 2010, but unlike Doug Gansler, his predecessor attorney general, he was not a vocal RICO proponent on the campaign trail. (Van Smith)


Anyone who's walked walked the streets of our fair city knows Baltimore has a bit of a rat problem. The vermin often look big enough to be stray cats, and people freak out at the sight of the furry, long-tailed creatures, even without provocation. Rats have bad PR—including the lesson many of us learned in world history, that the rodents were responsible for carrying and spreading the Black Death in 14th-century Europe. But now scientists are saying the cuter, friendlier, household favorite known as the gerbil is to blame, according to the BBC. How did they figure this out? In short, they looked at tree rings and determined that weather conditions in Europe at the time would not have been suitable for the rat population to thrive. The warm temperatures in Asia, however, made it possible for giant gerbils to increase in large numbers. "And because this was a period when trade between the East and West was at a peak, the plague was most likely brought to Europe along the silk road," professor Nils Christian Stenseth explained to the BBC. (Brandon Weigel)

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