Rally for man shot by police stopped for medical emergency, baby dies

City Paper

A rally organized by the People's Power Assembly (PPA), the West Coalition, and other activist groups for the man shot by Baltimore police yesterday quickly came to a halt when the baby of one of those attending the rally stopped breathing. Despite efforts of police, EMT, and concerned activists, the one-month old died at the hospital.

Around 2 p.m., 20 or so activists gathered at 33rd St. and Greenmount Ave. for a rally addressing the police shooting the day before of a man police said was armed with knives (the man is as of last update, still in critical condition).

Tawanda Jones, the sister of Tyrone West, a man who died in police custody in 2013, spoke, invoking what she considers a double-standard where the police call shooters in the community "cowards" but don't apply the same terminology to themselves.

"What about the cowards who killed my brother?" she asked.

Rev. C.D. Witherspoon encouraged those there to not trust the police account: "Until we see tapes we don't believe anything," he said. "Trust isn't given, it's earned."

Others who spoke continued to question the police narrative, repeating what many had said the day before. Namely, that the police did not use a taser on the man first, in an effort to stop him prior to drawing their weapons, as the police claimed. Others were now saying the man had only one knife, not two.

Sharon Black of the PPA said that the Baltimore Police need to release the name of the man who was shot. Also, because one of the officers had a body camera on, activists called for the release the body camera footage immediately. This evening, the Baltimore Police did release the name of the officers involved in the shooting: Officer Gary Brown and Officer Supreme Jones.

Activist PFK Boom, who testified at a public hearing on Tuesday evening tied to police deescalation techniques (and was feeding the needy on Monument Street the day after that) encouraged those gathered to focus on the plight of the homeless—the man shot was said to be homeless—who are "merchandise for the police department when they need a quota," he said. "Anyone of us could be homeless tomorrow," he reminded the group, encouraging empathy. He said that the officers’ actions shooting the man "reflect the top" of the BPD and said Commissioner Kevin Davis needs to be removed.

Just as the group was about to wrap up the rally with Assata Shakur's Freedom Chant, some of the organizers rushed across the street and into the Mamma Lucia Italian Eatery where it was reported that a baby was not breathing. One of the activists who had gathered for the protest had taken her child, who was about one-month old, into Mamma Lucia to feed her and the baby was not breathing and was bleeding from the nose.

Major Richard Gibson of the Baltimore Police was nearby, observing the protests and performed CPR on the baby. Soon, police cars and an ambulance showed up and police and EMTs raced inside. Gibson was seen not long after, distraught with blood in his mouth.

Outside the group of activists hovered or gathered nearby quietly. Most stood back and observed, while a few helped out or tried to move the crowd away, some of whom didn't seem to know what had happened or why so many police were there. A brief scuffle occurred between some activists who wanted to get in to help and police who were trying to keep the area clear and organized.

As the baby was eventually taken into an ambulance, police officers and those who had gathered for the protests all stood dazed—many with tears in their eyes.

"A police officer came in there and gave her CPR. A white shirt I was video taping earlier, a white shirt we don't get along with—did do his job. He did serve the community today, so I can't beat him up on that one, all right?" activist Duane "Shorty" Davis said wiping away tears. "So the police did do something positive today in the community. I give them a hundred on this one. I am that type of guy, I'll keep it 100. So today they served and protected the community."

Then Shorty walked over to Major Gibson and shook his hand.

"I appreciate you," Shorty said. "[You] did what he had to do for real."

Gibson kindly nodded, still too upset and shaken to speak.

Not long after, Gibson and other officers handed out pizzas they had purchased for the frazzled group of activists and Waverly residents.

The baby was taken to the hospital where she died shortly after, Baltimore Police confirmed in a media update sent this evening.

The cause and manner of death are still unknown and the officers who attempted to help the baby "will be provided with counseling services," Baltimore police said.

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