Baltimore union blasts national leaders over lack of police support

Killing of 2 NY cops by man who started spree in Baltimore County prompted union on Sunday to denounce president and other leaders for a lack of support over the past few weeks

By Justin George
The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — The fatal shootings of two New York City police officers by a gunman who started his spree in Baltimore County prompted the Baltimore police union on Sunday to denounce the president and other national leaders for a lack of support for officers over the past few weeks.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore police union officials spoke at a news conference Sunday to "express their support for local law enforcement and urge citizens to speak out against violence in any form, particularly violence against police," a city statement stated. The president of the Baltimore NAACP and two top-ranking police officials also stood with the mayor.

Baltimore police union President Gene Ryan also posted a statement on the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police website calling for political leaders to support law officers as they are being "targeted."

"This senseless murder of two of New York's finest further exemplifies the dangerous political climate in which all members of law enforcement, nationwide, now find themselves," Ryan said. "Not since the political unrest of the 1960's have police officers been so targeted."

Tensions were already high within the Baltimore police force after a city officer was shot a week ago following waves of police brutality demonstrations here and across the country following the August fatal police shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

On Saturday, New York and Baltimore County police say Ismaaiyl Abdulah Brinsley of Georgia shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend in Owings Mills before 6 a.m., then headed north to Brooklyn, where he fired rounds of bullets into a marked police vehicle and killed New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Police said Brinsley, 28, then ran into a subway station and fatally shot himself.

Baltimore County police on Sunday identified Brinsley's ex-girlfriend as Shaneka Nicole Thompson, 29. Police said she was listed in critical but stable condition at an area hospital. She is expected to survive.

Baltimore County detectives haven't been able to interview her because of her condition, police said. They, along with New York police detectives who will arrive today, hope to interview her as soon as her condition improves.

Police said they still don't know why Brinsley shot Thompson. They believe he has no ties to the Baltimore area except to her, police said. Police said their relationship lasted less than a year, and they have no children together.

"There is no indication of prior criminal activity by Brinsley in Maryland, detectives say, nor is there any confirmation of gang affiliation," Baltimore County police said.

Overnight Saturday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that a Tarpon Springs, Fla., police officer was shot to death overnight by a suspect now in custody.

On Dec. 14, Baltimore police officer Andrew Groman was shot and wounded in the abdomen while trying to get 19-year-old Donte Jones to get out of the back seat of a silver Cadillac police had stopped. Groman had drawn his Taser on Jones when police say Jones pulled out a concealed.357 caliber handgun and shot Groman. Jones was arrested after a short chase.

Groman is recovering from surgery and was listed in fair conditon late last week.

After the shooting of Groman, Rawlings-Blake and Ryan raised concerns that there might be unease among Baltimore officers who may feel hesitant to draw their guns and use deadly force when confronted with dangerous situations because they fear any shooting could draw them into controversy.

"Politicians and community leaders from President Obama, to Attorney General Holder, New York Mayor de Blasio, and Al Sharpton have, as the result of their lack of proper guidance, created the atmosphere of unnecessary hostility and peril that police officers now find added to the ordinary danger of their profession," Ryan said in his statement. "Sadly, the bloodshed will most likely continue until those in positions of power realize that the unequivocal support of law enforcement is required to preserve our nation."

Copyright 2014 The Baltimore Sun

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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