Outside Review: Baltimore Officer Contributed to Own Death in Chaos


An independent commission reviewing January’s fatal police shooting outside a Baltimore lounge found that supervisors failed to take control of a chaotic scene, with Officer William H. Torbit Jr. making a series of missteps that exacerbated the situation and contributed to his own death, the Baltimore Sun reports. The conclusions were among 33 sweeping recommendations made by the panel, appointed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to examine the circumstances surrounding a shooting that left two dead and four wounded — the Baltimore Police Department’s first incident of on-duty, fatal friendly fire in 80 years.

Highlighting gaps in training and problems with police investigations of controversial incidents, the report offers a “blueprint for how the department can improve its policies and procedures,” said Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld. Rawlings-Blake said that the police department would work to implement all of the panel’s recommendations within 90 days. The police union chafed at the report’s findings that were critical of the officers. “The increased training — that’s all well and good, but all the training in the world, unfortunately, may sometimes never really fully prepare our officers for a situation like this, which was a tragic perfect storm,” said union president Robert Cherry. Prof. Eugene O’Donnell of John Jay College of Criminal Justice said Rawlings-Blake should be commended for her willingness to “look under rocks and seek reform.”

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