Man with toy gun killed by Baltimore cop. Should toy guns be illegal?
Alleged robber fatally shot by off-duty police officer.
“It appears that this is a robbery gone wrong and the officer fired in self-defense,” Anne Arundel Police Lt. The shooting Saturday at 1:30 a.m. on a block of homes decorated with Christmas lights in the Baltimore suburb of Linthicum Heights was being investigated by Anne Arundel County Police, Fox 45 reported.
On getting up to investigate the noise in the 100 block of Homewood Road in Linthicum Heights, at around 1:30am on Saturday morning, the officer discovered Moreland, 32, brandishing what appeared to be a revolver, and shot in self-defense using his service weapon. Because he had just finished his shift, the officer was not in uniform. “One of those pieces of evidence was a toy gun that was very realistic, looked like a black revolver, that’s believed to be what the suspect pointed at the officer,” Frashure told WBAL TV. “We feel very bad for the Moreland family to deal with the loss of a son especially around the holidays,” Lt.
That’s when the policeman, who was not wearing his uniform at the time, pretended to reach out for his wallet and instead took out his own gun from a bookbag and shot the mugger several times, from a close distance. It’s a very unfortunate incident to be placed into.” “He had just gotten off work,” Frashure told WJZ-TV. “He had his duty weapon inside of a bag and when the suspect asked for a wallet, he reached into his bag like he was getting his wallet.
The suspect, later identified as 32-year old Edel Cato Moreland, had actually been trying to commit the burglary using an extremely realistic toy gun, so he immediately tried to escape from the barrage of bullets. His older brother, Ulric Moreland, 35, said that the entire family was in a state of disbelief, that a robbery would have been out of character for his brother. However, due to his extensive injuries, he soon fell unconscious on a nearby street from that residential neighborhood, and was declared dead at the scene, when first responders arrived hoping that they could still offer him medical assistance.
The incident has occurred during a period where the actions of police have faced great scrutiny, especially when it comes to racial profiling and fatal shootings involving unarmed African-Americans. Boston officials say in light of rampant gun violence in the US, the threat of toy guns should be taken off the table. “No one, especially a police officer who has the burden of making a split second decision, should ever have to guess if a gun is real,” said State Representative Dan Cullinane in a press release.
Obviously, it is a tragedy . . . we hate to see anyone lose their life.” The shooting comes at a time when there is growing tension about police use of force across the United States, particularly in confrontations between white police officers and minorities. Boston police officers have already confiscated 150 replica handguns this year, the statement reports. “Replica guns have become a big issue for us,” said Commissioner William B. Baltimore City police spokeswoman Chakia Fennoy declined to provide details about the officer and said the agency will not release the officer’s name Saturday. Smith said that he had never known Moreland to engage in any violent activities like this one, and that he “would’ve never expected anything like this.”
While Moreland did have a criminal record with several drug charges and a guilty plea for assault in the second degree, his family has still expressed doubts that he could ever commit a violent armed robbery. Investigators will be talking to the state’s attorney to see if the officer could face charges, but at this point the evidence backs up his version of what happened. So far, preliminary information shared with the media by Lieutenant Ryan Frashure suggests that the off-duty cop truly believed that the robber’s gun was real, especially since it was pitch dark outside. Smith confirmed the officer’s involvement, his tenure on the force and his role on the special investigations section, which handles a wide range of activities — from traffic accidents to aviation and SWAT duties. The 41-year old policeman, who had been working with the department for the last 18 years, as part of the Special Operations Unit, has been placed on administrative leave, as the investigation continues.
In August, five online retailers including Amazon and Walmart agreed to stop shipping realistic-looking guns to New York and paying more than $309,000 in fines to the state, collectively. Patrick Michael Smith, a Glen Burnie attorney who has represented Moreland and members of his family for decades, said Moreland was “overcharged” in the 2011 assault case, and the guilty plea was the result of a deal to avoid another drug charge. New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman says there have been 63 shootings linked to toy guns in the state since 1994, resulting in at least eight deaths. And in Chicago, Boston, and New York City, the same cities with model fake gun laws, residents with the proper licensing are allowed to carry concealed firearms in public.
Ninety-six percent of officers fired at the toy guns, as the orange cap “completely failed to enable the test subjects to identify the weapon as a toy,” the study concluded.
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