Video: Man with knife lunges at woman, is fatally shot

Officers repeatedly asked the man to drop the knife and spent several minutes trying to de-escalate the situation

By Jessica Anderson
Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Despite repeated pleas for more than two minutes by two Baltimore Police officers on Sunday, Timothy Fleming would not give up the knife.

Two officers confronted Fleming in a home in the 1800 block of E. Lafayette Avenue in East Baltimore , where Fleming, 49, stood over a woman, threatening her with the knife. Officer Gaston Melendez tells Fleming, “Please, just talk to us. We don’t want to hurt anybody.”

Fleming appears to grab to the woman by the hair, and press the knife toward her, prompting Melendez and Officer Jason Zimmerman to shoot and kill Fleming.

Footage from the officers’ body-worn cameras that captured the shooting was publicly released Wednesday at a news conference at police headquarters downtown. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the shooting remains under investigation but said he believes the officers took the appropriate action.

“I believe they used their training and de-escalation techniques the best that they could,” Harrison said. “I don’t know that this could have gone any other way.”

Harrison said the officers repeatedly pleaded with Fleming to drop the knife. Harrison said the officers were also limited because Fleming and the woman were at the end of a long, narrow hallway.

“It was a fraction of a second decision to neutralize that threat to save the life of the woman who he potentially could have stabbed and fatally wounded,” Harrison said.

Marcus Shannon, Fleming’s cousin, previously told The Baltimore Sun that Fleming struggled with anxiety but appeared to be in good spirits recently. Shannon said he was upset that officers could not defuse the situation before killing his cousin, a Black man.

“White America can have a breakdown, but Black America can’t,” he said previously.

The incident began after a boy called 911 shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday. He told officers Fleming cut his mother’s hand the day before, and that on Sunday he held the knife on her knee.

“He’s doing it again,” the boy told the officers, which can be heard in the body-worn camera footage.

The officers then go upstairs and find Fleming standing over the boy’s mother, who is sitting on the floor, at the end of a long, narrow hallway. Another family member is also there, telling Fleming to drop the knife. The officers tell the man to back up and let them deal with Fleming.

The woman can be heard saying “please.”

Melendez asks Fleming to “just talk to us, please.”

Zimmerman tells Fleming: “Just let her move. You can keep the knife in your hand.”

Then Zimmerman attempts another approach, asking Fleming what the problem is and what they can do to help.

“You can’t help me fix nothing,” Fleming responds. He then tells the officers “you can leave my house.”

Zimmerman says they can’t leave and mentions that the boy is scared.

“Remember this, we are here to help,” Melendez tells him.

Then, Fleming is seen grabbing at the woman’s hair and she screams. Fleming then bends over her and appears to raise the knife as if he were going to stab her. The video becomes shaky and the woman is heard screaming as several shots are fired. Fleming is seen slumped over and the officers pull the woman away from him down the hallway.

The officers can then be heard calling for a medic.

Fleming was pronounced dead at the scene and the woman was unharmed in the attack.

Fleming is the second person shot by police in the Broadway East neighborhood in the past four days.

On May 13, a man was shot by police on the 2200 block of E. Biddle Street on Thursday after police said he struck an officer with his vehicle. Both the suspect and the officer survived their injuries, police said.

Police have not released footage from that incident.

The department’s body worn camera policy allows Harrison to take a week to determine whether body camera footage will be released to the public.

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