A man was shot by police this morning near 33rd Street and Greenmount Avenue, while downtown, activists staged a sit-in at the Wells Fargo building downtown in opposition to the North Dakota Access Pipeline.
The man was "threatening folks" with knives and did not respond to three uniformed officers' "several verbal commands," Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a press conference following the shooting. Officers tased the man but the "taser did not take effect," and then he was shot twice by officers. Two of the three officers fired. One of the officers involved in the shooting wore a body camera, Davis said, and that footage will be reviewed and released to the public soon.
Davis stressed that this man was threatening people with knives "the day after Thanksgiving" multiple times. He also praised the officers' actions: "I'm so proud of these officers—the way they responded to the scene, the way that they attempted to de-escalate. Unfortunately [de-escalation] didn't work. And then their use of a non-lethal tool like a taser is something that we train and we expect of our police officers. And by all accounts, preliminarily, they did just that."
This is the second person shot by police this week. On Tuesday, Nov. 22, a man in West Baltimore who was pulled over for a license plate violation was shot after, police said, he got out of his car holding a gun.
Not long after the shooting, a small crowd gathered and slowly grew and Lil Boosie's 'Fuck Tha Police' blasted from a car with the crowd shouting along. At least two eyewitnesses questioned the police version of events.
"I saw an older guy, a black male—he was standing in front of the New York Fried Chicken store dancing. Holiday drunkenness. He did appear to have an object in his hand, not sure if it was a knife or a beer," said Lanay, a young woman who works at a store on Greenmount. "They didn't reach for a taser, they fired two shots and missed him, then they fired two or more shots."
She also said that many had seen the man had been drinking earlier. She was also under the impression, not long after the shooting, that the man had been killed.
"Everybody was screaming, 'Don't shoot, don't shoot'," she said. "There was people at the bus stop when the man was shot, [the police] didn't care about everybody else at the bus stop."
"I seen the police shoot him two times and I never seen a taser," said an older man who didn't want to give his name who also says he saw the shooting.
As police shuffled around and the crime scene was investigated, this alternate version of events spread and the crowd yelled at cops on the other side of the yellow tape.
"No fuckin' taser, dirty-ass police."
"Body cameras work when we kill y'all, but not when you kill us?"
"The police is a gang."
"Fuck 12 all goddamn day."
"The only way this gonna work is if we clap back against these officers, man."
Eventually, the sidewalk in front of the Boulevard Theatre where the man was shot was hosed down, washing away the blots of blood, and yellow tape was pulled way and stuffed in the trash.
The small crowd, led by veteran activist Duane "Shorty" Davis then confronted the police about what had happened. Sgt. Stanley Branford told Shorty that the police had given a statement to the media and they could consult that if they had any questions.
"Happy holidays," Branford added.
"It isn't a happy holiday when y'all shooting us," Shorty told Branford.
The group walked to the front of the Boulevard Theatre and stared at the wet concrete and the blots of blood.
According to the police, the man, who has not been identified, is in critical condition.
Additional reporting by J.M. Giordano.