A Baltimore Police officer struck a boy riding a dirt bike with his police car around 7 p.m. this evening, on Avon Avenue near 33rd Street, residents said. Residents claimed the officer was pursuing two dirt bike riders and was following one dirt bike very closely and bumped it with the front of his vehicle, knocking the boy off of the dirt bike, as the other rider escaped by riding on the sidewalk.
The boy, who residents said was possibly as young as 9 years old,* was taken to the hospital with what medics believe to be a broken ankle. Residents said the police had been actively following dirt bike riders in the area on Saturday as well.
This marks the third weekend in a row the BPD has been more visibly preventing dirt bike riding, which is illegal on city streets. It began earlier this month, following a fight that broke out on Reisterstown Road amongst those watching the dirt bike riders in front of the Hip-Hop Fried Chicken, which also resulted in a police officer pulling a gun on the crowd.
The area of Reisterstown Road near Druid Hill Avenue, where dirt bikes congregate, has been reduced to one lane each way these past three Sundays, with a heavy police presence watching the area.
The result has been a fracturing of the dirt bike riders, with small groups driving around the city, and the police more actively pursuing them with the help of Foxtrot. This has included police recording dirt bikers (as well as some motorcycles, City Paper observed), stopping dirt bikes and checking registrations, seizing dirt bikes, and as Sunday evening's incident suggests, following small groups of dirt bikes on city roads.
Earlier in the day across town, near Mondawmin Mall on Gwynns Falls Parkway, City Paper spoke to a 31-year-old father of four who had been riding dirt bikes since he was 11 and had sustained numerous injuries over the years. Frustated that the police had shown up to stop dirt bikers from riding in the field next to Gwynns Falls Elementary School, the man, who preferred to remain anonymous, said dirt bike riding was "[the city's] sport" and that the police crackdown was unwise.
He said dirt bike riding brings the parts of the city together, connects Baltimoreans with nearby cities, such as Philadelphia, and prevents violence.
"We squash beef when we ride together," he said as Foxtrot flew overhead and police nearby filmed dirt bikers with an iPad.
He also mentioned numerous friends who had been chased and sustained injuries after being bumped by the police cars pursuing them.
The Baltimore Police Department has not yet made a statement on tonight's incident. We will update this post when it does.
UPDATE: Lieutenant Sarah E. Connolly of the Baltimore Police Media Relations Division sent the following press release, which says the boy is 16 years old:
"On August 31, 2015 at approximately 7:45p.m. a departmental accident was reported in the 3200 block of Avon Avenue. The uniformed officer was driving a marked patrol vehicle, he along with additional units responded to City College for the report of dirt bike riders in the vicinity. Upon their arrival the dirt bikes began to flee. The dirt bike driver who had been involved in the accident had changed directions several times, one of which his bike slid. The driver continued down an alley and attempted to make a turn in the 3200 block of Avon Avenue when he stopped and attempted to get off of the dirt bike. It was at this time the officer was unable to stop his vehicle prior to it striking the dirt bike, the patrol vehicle’s lights and sirens were not activated. The bike did not have any lights or safety equipment. The 16-year-old victim was transported to an area hospital for the medical care of his injury to his ankle. The victim was treated and released and subsequently transported to the Juvenile Booking Facility. The investigation by the Accident Investigation Unit determined the dirt bike the victim had been driving was stolen in June of 2007 in Texas. The 16-year-old was charged accordingly. The accident remains under investigation."**
**UPDATE (8:45 p.m.) Police sent the following email: "In reference to the incident on Avon Avenue, further investigation has determined the bike was not stolen. A data entry error resulted in the bike being cross referenced with another all terrain vehicle that had been stolen. The juvenile's charges have been amended to reflect this change, the traffic violations remain."