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Video: Baltimore police shoot knife-wielding man

The video shows the suspect opening the door and yelling “time to die”

By Pamela Wood
The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Baltimore County police released video Wednesday of an officer shooting a man who was carrying a knife, the first time the agency has released footage from police body cameras since the program was launched over the summer.

Two of the officers who responded Friday to the Pikesville apartment of Bryant Junious Palmer for a report of a disturbance were wearing body cameras, including the officer who shot and wounded the 48-year-old man.

The two videos show the officers approaching the apartment and a shirtless man opening the door and yelling, “Time to die! Time to die!” Police said the man, identified as Palmer, was armed with a knife.

The videos show officers retreating down the steps, with one of them firing a single shot that struck Palmer near his right shoulder.

Police identified the officer only by his rank and last name -- Officer Remmers -- citing a county police policy. He has seven years of experience with the county police and has not been involved in any prior shootings, police said.

Remmers is on administrative leave while police and prosecutors investigate the shooting. He could not be reached for comment.

After the shooting, the videos show the officers handcuffing Palmer behind his back while he screams.

Remmers calls for a medic and then runs out to a police cruiser to get medical supplies, the videos show. He goes back into the apartment building and helps the other officer treat Palmer’s gunshot wound.

Remmers asks Palmer for his name and what happened. Palmer responds: “I keep hearing all these voices, they’re tormenting me.”

Remmers replies: “OK, just stay with us, all right? You’re going to be OK. All right, bud?”

Palmer was in good condition Wednesday at Sinai Hospital and is expected to recover.

He has been charged with three counts of first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault and three counts of possessing a dangerous weapon, according to court records. He could not be reached for comment and does not have an attorney listed in online court records.

David Rose, second vice president of Baltimore County FOP Lodge 3, said the videos illustrate the challenges faced by officers in the field.

“It shows the split-second decision some of our officers are faced with when confronted by an armed subject,” Rose said.

But Rose cautioned that more evidence needs to be reviewed in the case, including statements from the officers and any witnesses. The footage, he said, “is still only one piece of evidence until you get it in context.”

The footage from Friday’s shooting is clear and has audio, except for the first 30 seconds. The audio begins recording when an officer turns the camera on. But the camera has a built-in, video-only memory of 30 seconds before it is activated, according to police.

Baltimore County launched its police body camera program in the summer, training 10 officers per week. In the fall, the county accelerated its plans, saying it would equip all 1,435 uniformed officers with cameras by September 2017.

About 150 to 160 county officers currently have body cameras, which can be worn in multiple ways, including on an officer’s glasses or collar.

The county has an eight-year, $12.5 million contract with Taser International for Axon Flex cameras and data storage.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a former prosecutor, has championed body camera use.

On Wednesday he issued a statement saying the video in the Pikesville case “reinforces our decisions to expedite the use of body cameras” and to improve mental health training for officers.

“It also reveals the difficult challenges that police officers encounter every day,” Kamenetz said.

Through a spokesman, Kamenetz declined an interview request.

County Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond, a Democrat who represents Pikesville, said she was glad the police department released the body camera videos.

“This is exactly what we intended: to tell the story from a point of view that is completely unbiased,” Almond said.

Police body cameras have been supported by some politicians who see the footage as a possible tool to help prosecute criminals as well as a way to scrutinize the actions of police. Others have been less enthusiastic, questioning the cost of the camera programs.

Other recent high-profile incidents involving use of force by Baltimore County police were not captured by body cameras, including the Aug. 1 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Korryn Gaines after a standoff at her Randallstown apartment and the Sept. 18 confrontation between police and 21-year-old Tawon Boyd in Middle River. Boyd died three days later. His death was recently ruled accidental by the medical examiner.

Three other people have been shot by county officers this year: Oddis Bernard Colvin Jr., 33, was fatally shot while being chased after a bank robbery in September; Travis Jay Hunt, 22, was shot and wounded after police said he made a move toward a knife during an assault investigation in May; and George Greenwood Willinger III, 37, was shot and wounded after police said he made a move to his waistband during a February traffic stop.

None of those incidents were recorded on body cameras.

Baltimore City has equipped 600 police officers with cameras since May, with plans to outfit all 2,500 officers by 2018.

The city Police Department released its first body camera footage of a police shooting in November, which showed a man in Waverly waving knives and yelling. The 48-year-old man was wounded in the incident.