MD Cops Shoot and Kill Cough Syrup Addict [Not Shown] for “Gun Finger” Gesture

Dalai Lama

“A [suburban Baltimore] man was shot dead after pointing his finger as if it was a gun at a police officer who was chasing him for trying to obtain cough syrup with a fake prescription,” reports. It’s not as bad as it sounds, really, provided you’re down with the police version of events. Their initial official statement was a little vague, as you might expect . . .

At about 4:50 p.m. a man walked into the Nature Care pharmacy in the unit block of Main Street, 21136 (Precinct 3/Franklin) and presented a forged prescription. The pharmacist notified police, and an officer promptly responded.

The officer located the suspect in the parking lot outside the pharmacy, and the suspect subsequently led the officer on a foot chase that continued across Main Street and behind businesses on the east side of the street.

A confrontation occurred between the officer and the suspect, and multiple shots were fired. The suspect is deceased, and the officer was not injured. The circumstances remain under investigation by the Homicide Unit.

The follow-up – after word leaked that the perp/vic pointed a “gun finger” at the cops – put some meat on the bones of the story.

Detectives obtained video evidence from nearby businesses that captures the confrontation. The footage shows the suspect aggressively advancing on a single officer, who retreats with his gun drawn.  The footage shows the suspect reaching around to the small of his back and abruptly whipping his hand around and pointing it toward the officer, as if with a weapon. The officer fires his weapon as the suspect swiftly brings his hand forward from his waistband. On the ground, the suspect refuses to comply and keeps reaching into his waistband, as if for a weapon.

Witnesses told detectives that they heard the officer repeatedly giving the suspect commands to “stop,” and that they heard the suspect shouting profanities at the officer.

The state Medical Examiner has confirmed that the suspect — transported to Northwest Hospital, where he was declared deceased — was shot three times. Three shots were fired, police have confirmed.

A weapon was not found.

Judge not lest ye be judged, as they say. But really . . . provided we’re not talking about close quarters combat, shouldn’t cops have to actually see a weapon before shooting someone? Just thought I’d point that out. Cough.


  1. avatar ANdrew Lias says:

    Will wait for the video since there is one.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      Expect video to NOT agree with any adjectives used by police, including “aggressively”, “whipping” and “swiftly”, but maybe I’ll be surprised.

      1. avatar 40&2000 says:

        Video has been released. You might want to rethink this comment.

      2. avatar FedUp says:

        I see the cop aggressively advancing out of the frame with gun in firing position. I see cop walking backwards into the frame, gun still in firing position, suspect WAY too close with right arm cocked behind his body. (If you’re going to let him get that close, holster your sidearm and engage him by hand) It’s not a stretch to say suspect was aggressively advancing on the cop at this point.

        I see suspect swiftly whipping (2 video frames) his right arm forward from behind his butt after cop achieves some (still not adequate) distance. I see suspect flinch from bullet impact in the next frame.

        Analysis: Perp did exactly what the PD says he did, all pejorative adjectives included. Cop put himself in a potentially bad situation.

        Note that my original comment allowed for the possibility that my guess was wrong, but it was a reasonable guess based on past performance of ‘police spokespersons’ nationwide.

      3. avatar Dustin says:

        You forgot “furtive” and “assault.”

    2. avatar Bob says:

      Excellent comment.

    3. avatar Seth says:

      Who cares. It’s obviously not a minority so his life doesn’t matter.

  2. avatar schernobyl says:

    First they came for the pop tart guns and I said nothing

    1. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

      Most of us said something, something like: “That’s stupid.”
      That’s gotta be worth something….

  3. avatar Mark N. says:

    If you wait to see a gun/knife, and there is one, you are probably already dead, particularly where the perp/subject wants you to believe that he is armed, says Tueller.

    1. avatar Another Robert says:

      Tueller or no, I’m not necessarily going to wait until I see, as in visually confirm, a gun or a knife in a split-second encounter with what I have determined to be a “bad guy”. Like most things, it kind of depends on the circumstances.

    2. avatar Anonymous says:

      If you wait to see a gun/knife, and there is one, you are probably already dead, particularly where the perp/subject wants you to believe that he is armed, says Tueller.

      The same thing can be said about concealed carriers, who are armed to protect themselves. However, you don’t see us being arrested for shooting people “reaching” for something. There should not be separate rules. One rule for them. One rule for us. If a concealed carrier shot an unarmed man for putting his hand in his pocket or pretending to pull something – they would go to prison for a long time. There must be some form of accountability.

      1. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

        We also don’t pursue addicts. We only have to act when another engages us. The police are obliged to initiate contact with potentially dangerous people, which changes the dynamics somewhat. But then I haven’t watched the video yet so I may change my opinion when I do, but it seems to me the legitimacy of this shoot comes down to the legitimacy of the arrest in the first place.

        1. avatar Troy says:

          police are not obligated to do anything. Chasing a two bit addict trying to get cough syrup with a forged Rx is asinine. government and their pig enforcers are out of control. This man needed help and he was murdered by a cowardly government sanctioned thug.

      2. avatar int19h says:

        After watching the video, I don’t have a problem with the cop’s actions, and I believe that a civilian drawing and firing a handgun in similar circumstances would be able to successfully argue self-defense, as well. Remember, the legal standard is “reasonably believe”, and the guy certainly did behave in a way that would make any observer reasonably believe that he’s drawing a gun on them, which in the context of an ongoing confrontation would constitute an imminent threat of death or bodily harm.

        1. avatar george from fort worth says:


          wrong. wrong. wrong.

          a non LEO is not allowed to chase a fleeing person. non cop rules would have ended the event once the bad guy turned to run. everything after would never have happened.


          if a non LEO did chase the bad guy, did corner the bad guy, the presumption would likely be that the good guy initiated the confrontation, therefore is not eligible to claim self-defense. bad outcome for the good guy.

          and we know what would happen if the bad guy was killed by the good guy who now becomes the primary bad guy.

        2. avatar int19h says:

          I was referring specifically to the part that was captured on video (where cop is already retreating).

        3. avatar george from fort worth says:

          understand, but the conversation strayed to comparing cop liberty to non cop liberty. if the event had involved one of the POTG, none of the actions after starting the chase would be sanctioned/approved.

  4. avatar fishydude says:

    Suicide by cop. Justified shooting if things went down as written.
    It doesn’t go down like in Hollywood Cop dramas. They don’t often have time to talk. And if they start hesitating when a person makes such an aggressive move that we all know is intended to make the officer think he is reaching for a gun, the next time there might be a gun and a dead officer.

    1. avatar DJC1012 says:

      “Suicide by cop”. Exactly what I was thinking based on what the article gives us. I might change my mind as more facts come forth but, this is how it looks now.

  5. avatar Alan Longnecker says:

    Sounds good to me.

  6. avatar MKK says:

    Action beats reaction… so no.

    The mind can play tricks. People who check their blind spot still lane-change into motorcycles they swear they didnt see. Seems reasonable to assume suspect was going for gun.

  7. avatar Tom in PA says:

    That’s asking to get popped – though I’m sure we will hear from the usual band of liberal utopian idealists reminding us that people should be able to do stupid things with zero consequences or accountability as a matter of civil liberty.

    1. avatar Adub says:

      Exactly! Acting like you have a gun and trying to draw on a cop is a recipe to get yourself shot. Why people think you can provoke somebody else who is armed is beyond me…

      1. avatar John says:

        because they are either A stupid ,or B doped up ,or C asking to be shot ?.. , next topic

  8. avatar James says:

    Dumb = dead

    I thought if you pulled a finger you would have a different result?

  9. avatar Matt in Pa says:

    He had it coming.

  10. avatar pres stone says:

    the [Not Shown] annotation just makes this article so damn funny.

  11. avatar Ethan says:

    Advancing on someone who’s holding a gun and yelling at you to STOP? – that’s suicide by any definition. Whether you try it on a COP, a CCW’er, or a gangbanger, it all ends with the aggressor catching a bullet or 6.

    I’m all for scrutiny of any Officer-involved shooting, but lets remember to apply (at least) the same standard to them as we apply to ourselves. If someone continues advancing on me in a back-alley AFTER I’ve pointed a gun at his face and told him to STOP, he’s catching lead poisoning.

    That said, words are cheap – show us the video.

  12. avatar AD says:

    Play stupid games….
    Not saying for sure that’s what happened here.

  13. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    …provided we’re not talking about close quarters combat, shouldn’t cops have to actually see a weapon before shooting someone?

    No, actually. Police get the benefit of the Reasonable Man standard, too. If a reasonable person, in the same circumstances, would reasonably fear that the person was retrieving a firearm from his waistband and pointing it at him as if to shoot, then the use of deadly force in self-defense is justified.

    1. avatar Defens says:

      Chip has it. If the officer could articulate a reasonable fear that the suspect was reaching for a weapon, he had cause to use deadly force. If the officer had been yelling, “Show me some ID!,” that suspicion might be diluted, since the perp might have been reaching for a wallet. But in this case – sounds like a justified shooting.

    2. avatar Anonymous says:

      Yeah except the cops generally get a paid vacation and you and I get to spend 15 grand to the lawyers, get arrested, pay bail, court time, etc. the police investigation of the police action will find that the officer was acting according to police procedures, etc, case closed. The prosecutor and police are on the same side. You and the prosecutor are not.

      Funny. You shoot an unarmed man and see if you get a paid vacation.

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        That’s a different, though related, issue. This particular shoot, judging by the facts available, looks justified. The fact that a non-LEO would get crucified for in many jurisdictions is a longer term fight, to be waged as much on the social level as the legal.

        1. avatar Anonymous says:

          I was implicitly implying that the consequence influences the action itself. You and I are more likely to wait to see if it was a gun, due to the consequences for us, than a cop is – who has support from from his department and a safety net against the consequences that you or I would face.

      2. avatar Grindstone says:

        Not to mention if the reason you shot that unarmed man is because you were chasing him because he was trying to buy cough syrup.

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          If you are arguing that we should eliminate laws relating to controlled substances, I get it. But if we are going to have such laws we shouldn’t decide to let people go who run- when you do that you’re basically creating a system where those who are least deserving of punishment (those otherwise compliant with the law) or the only ones who ARE punished, because criminals will learn that all you have to do to escape due process is run away.

        2. avatar Grindstone says:

          You’re inferring a lot from one line. The crime that was committed was attempting to obtain something with a false prescription. How in the world does that warrant an armed footchase? Tell me the pharmacy doesn’t have a single camera, the clerk didn’t see the guy, nothing at all that they could track the guy down later on. But because the crime is SOOOO great, and such a menace to society, that it warranted an armed agent of the state to peruse and eventually kill the suspect? Tell me again how free of a society we are?

        3. avatar george from fort worth says:

          not being especially pro-cop, but definitely anti letting crime go unpunished, it seems to me we have another “stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places”. police are obligated to pursue suspects fleeing the scene of the crime. the alternative is to provide an assured “arrest free zone” for those smart enough to run away. do we really want an environment where criminals can flee without consequence? where do you think we are, england?

        4. avatar Grindstone says:

          Bullshit. This is pure hyperventilation. Do you really believe that cops have an obligation to give chase? Do you also believe cops have an obligation to protect you? Pro-tip: They don’t have an obligation to either. Further, as I’ve already stated, they can track down the suspect and arrest him when it’s less confrontational. But, given the era of making SWAT raids for drugs that end up killing children, waiting for a more opportune moment never crossed anyone’s mind.
          And of course NOBODY is questioning why a forged prescription is illegal in the first place, necessitating the use of state violence for the “good of society”.

        5. avatar int19h says:

          Look at the video (there’s a link in the comments above). I don’t know who started the confrontation there (the cop already has the gun drawn in the footage), but the way the guy behaves, he was very definitely trying to convince the cop that he’s about to draw.

  14. avatar Mk10108 says:

    “Cough” my chuckle for the day.

  15. avatar Steve S says:

    Why is a photo of the Dalai Lama(the Tibet spiritual leader in exile) shown? I’m a gun owning and packing pastor who is a little shocked. You guys may as well had put a photo of the Pope and pissed off a few Catholics.

    1. avatar Herb says:

      Holy smoke, lighten up, Pastor!

      The Dalai Lama pointing his finger is meant to inject a little humor into a grim story. Does the holy man look like he is threatening someone with that finger?

      If there exists a pic of Pope Francis pointing his finger, wouldn’t TTAG have used that? After all, he is for gun control.

      “The Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop and asks, “Can you make me one with everything?”‘
      (I’ll stop)

    2. avatar David P. says:

      That’s not the Dalai Lama, that’s a picture of the suspect. Nature Care Phamacy went all out on the camera system in their back alley (great resolution). I find the police story questionable because as we can see from the picture above the “suspect” was wearing a robe so I don’t think he would have been reaching into waistband. #tibeatanlivesmatter

  16. avatar JasonM says:

    shouldn’t cops have to actually see a weapon before shooting someone?
    Nope. It’s not unreasonable to assume that the guy is drawing a gun under those circumstances. If he is drawing a gun, then there’s no time to do anything but shoot.

    If the official story is correct (and if the cameras captured it all as they said, then we should find out soon), then it sounds like the cop made the best choice in a tough situation.

  17. avatar Ralph says:

    Maybe the coughing dude was reaching for his inhaler.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Maybe the coughing dude was reaching for his inhaler.”

      The cop ventilated him well enough, it seems…

  18. avatar Grindstone says:

    Acting like you’re pulling a gun on a cop is stupid. It’s also more stupid than chasing down a suspect accused of trying to get cough syrup.=

    1. avatar godsend1 says:

      At what point do the police stop policing?

      A fake scrip, running a red light…evading arrest.

      This is heading in a direction that none of us wants to see.

      By making these crimes not enforceable because cops are mean/killing people, means we’ll have a LOT nore crime.

      1. avatar Grindstone says:

        Using deadly force to confront a non-violent crime is preferable? Then Go to Russia. Your police state awaits you.

        1. avatar int19h says:

          Chasing != deadly force. It’s merely apprehending.

          I’ll grant you that this really isn’t something that a person should be arrested over with, though. They should get a notice in their mail saying that the fine is $X. If and when they don’t actually pay it, and after trying a few more times, is when you send the court bailiffs to serve a warrant.

  19. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Relax guys-this happens all the time in Chicago-“he had a gun!”(we planted a gun). I have to disagree with ya’ll-this cop is pathetic. Yeah play stoo-pid games…they need to release a video.

  20. avatar the ruester says:

    Everyone knows you are not allowed to shoot unless the suspect has had at least 5 seconds to beat/shoot/stab/run over you. Anything less than that is clear cut murder. /sarc

  21. avatar MarkPA says:

    Two teaching (learning) moments come to mind.

    In a self-defense course the instructor contemplates a developing scenario where a possible attacker grabs his shirt and pulls it up. He recommends we ask ourselves:
    – is he just trying to show his scar from his recent appendicitis operation? or,
    – is he going for his gun?

    In the context of the totality of the circumstances, we have to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to rule-out the appendicitis scar.

    A year-or-two ago I saw a dash-cam video of a rookie cop lighting-up a young black man in a pickup truck as he pulled into a gas station. The cop asked the driver for his license, registration and insurance whereupon the young black man instantly turned and reached into his truck to produce the required paperwork. Upon observing the sudden movement, the cop opened fire. (Cop was fired.)

    Shit happens. It’s up to ALL of us – cops, carriers and everyone else – to learn from every available lesson written in blood.

    Avoid the impulse to make any quick move when there is any possibility of an armed person misinterpreting such a move. Obviously, when a cop is detaining you there is a presupposition that he is armed. In any other circumstance there is an ever-increasing possibility that someone observing your movements to be armed. Go ahead, it is your God-given right to make sudden movements that might be mis-interpreted. Darwin will sort it out.

    Cops must be trained to resort first to any possible evasive action rather than resort immediately to drawing and pulling the trigger. Cops ought to be trained to issue commands that minimize the risk of a precipitous response; e.g., “Good afternoon Sir; please S-L-O-W-L-Y retrieve your license, registration and insurance and S-L-O-W-L-Y hand them to me.”

    Cops enjoy “qualified-immunity”; we non-LEO-carriers do not. Accordingly, we need to be particularly careful to avoid firing in ambiguous circumstances. This is an area where we ought to place emphasis on shoot/don’t-shoot scenario training.

  22. avatar Louis Marschalko says:

    Another day. Another dindu.
    Making a motion consistent with reaching for a concealed weapon would justify the leo’s use of deadly force.

  23. avatar J. Edwards says:

    If you wait to see the gun, you will also get to see what comes out of it.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        I killed a wabbit! I KILLED A WABBIT! If you’re panicked that every bum you encounter is going to kill you, I kindly suggest you find another line of work.

        The cop was hyperventilating, sweating like a pig. The gun wasn’t cycled… back out and call for backup.

        I’ve been through Trinidad. Interestingly, it’s the sex change capital of the United States.

  24. avatar Swarf says:

    3 shots, 3 hits? By a cop?

    Something’s fishy.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      Hard to miss at that range. Cop could have rapped him across the knuckles with a ruler (well, yardstick, anyway).

  25. avatar Roy says:

    Im okay with police reasonably assuming the worst. Not enough time to trust yet verify its not really a gun. Its the perps own damned fault.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      How’s the boot liquor tasting today?

  26. avatar Chris Mallory says:

    Once again a government employee fires his weapon without properly identifying that his target was a threat. There was no gun, there was no threat. It is well past time to disarm government employees.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      I agree!

    2. avatar int19h says:

      If you look at the video, the guy in question did a very convincing imitation of drawing a gun from a holster somewhere at his 4 o’clock. Seeing how there’s no way for the cop to actually see whether the holster is there, it is a reasonable assumption that someone performing this gesture is actually trying to draw and fire, especially in a middle of an ongoing confrontation when they’re also advancing at you (while you have your gun at the ready). Purely on the balance of probabilities, it’s way more likely that it is a gun; and even if not, such a gesture is pretty much calculated to create a clear impression of threat.

      If I were on a jury and saw that video, I’d acquit on self-defense grounds, regardless of whether it was a cop or not. This was just a very stupid thing to do, and very likely a case of deliberate suicide by cop. I just don’t see any other rational reason for the person to deliberately behave in a way that virtually guarantees that they would be shot.

  27. avatar Justin A says:

    Not to armchair quarterback the officer but why did he let the suspect get that close? From the video it looks like the suspect was close enough to grab the officer.

    Just from what I saw on the video I would say that it was suicide by cop and a justified shoot.

    1. avatar int19h says:

      Maybe because it’s a good cop who didn’t want to shoot a person whom he did not observe to be armed and who acted erratically to the point where insanity was a distinct possibility?

  28. avatar William Burke says:

    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”

    ― Dalai Lama XIV

    1. avatar GuyFromV says:

      You just beat my ass with this quote, dammit.

  29. avatar george from fort worth says:

    to give benefit of the doubt to the cop (which i do only because i would expect the same), reaction time can get you killed. the totality of the situation must be taken into account. assuming (i know) the copper told the truth, the time required to observe a weapon, determine its damage potential, then respond could be the last thoughts a person has. if display of an actual weapon would be required in an otherwise deadly force encounter, then it is impossible to stop there. next would be the requirement to assess the weapon and respond only with like force. the chicago way would not be defensible. attacked with a spoon, the victim must respond with a spoon or something less. attacked with a bat, the victim must find a similar bat, or retreat. confronted with a knife, the victim could not employ a superior blade. and so on.

    we are not talking here about a person completely across the street taking pictures of a police activity, where cops think they can justify a shooting because, well….photographing/video recording cops is a deadly threat. we are talking about a person fleeing, refusing police orders, continuing to act aggressively.

    calling down rath on this particular cop puts in the position of being judged by our own standards (wait to see the gun).

  30. avatar MSgtB says:

    1. Video shows the idiot trying hard to convince the officer he’s pulling a weapon.
    2. Waiting until you can clearly see if it really is a weapon means that you’ll get perforated if it is.

    At that range a knife or handgun wouldn’t matter. He forced the officer to shoot.

  31. After seeing the video it almost looks like the perp committed “suicide by cop”. Why else, when facing a cop with his gun out, does the perp act exactly as if he has just pulled a gun? Or did he have delusions of being the next Freddie Gray?

  32. When I was in the academy we were trained that we had to absorb the first attack before responding with any level of force. Cops now are cowards by comparison.

  33. avatar Bova says:

    I don’t care for cops and I think they are typically out of control, but I have to side with the officer on this one. If the officer sits and waits until the man pulls out the gun on him, that can result in being shot and/or killed. Based on the story as given, I would have to say it was a justified shoot.

  34. avatar int19h says:

    Credit is where credit is due.

    1. Cop refrained from using his gun for as long as he could. He gave multiple warnings and retreated from the advancing perp, and even then only pulled the trigger when responding to a clearly and unambiguously threatening move that could only be reasonably interpreted as a gun or knife being pulled on him.

    2. Only three shots fired, all on target, no misses.

    Many officers could learn a few things here.

  35. avatar Dustin says:

    The video shows that this is a perfectly reasonable shoot.

    You’re asking the wrong question. Would a non-officer be in prison facing murder charges for exactly the same scenario? What makes it OK for a cop, but not anyone else?

    Why is this cop’s life more important than mine? Why does he get to stop a reasonably perceived deadly threat with deadly force, but a mere “civilian” would not be allowed?

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      The officer has a presumption (virtually unbeatable presumption) that his acts are justified. With the non-LEO, the presumption is turned around.

      In the case at hand, with video, the non-LEO gets arrested as SOP and released after they see the video.
      Without video proof of innocence, he gets released when he posts bail after arraignment.

  36. NRA says KNOW your target. If he is not sure don’t fire.
    If he is afraid find another job.
    No double standards put the DC politicians on Obamacare and SS.Thanks for your support and vote.Pass the word.

  37. avatar Yadama says:

    The real question is whether or not he is justified, but how did he end up in that situation. Back-up would have been smart since you know he is an addict thus most likely very irrational, but hey, let’s go it Rambo status. He’s definitely a thief and an addict, but probably not a rapist or murder. That’s why cops have thing resource called a ‘detective’. But, you know, you can’t move up the chain of command without ‘initiative’. Cops have this whole initiative thing out of control, always looking for that next headline arrest to push them up the ladder. Most people used to become cops because they love the community they policed; now, it’s just a stepping stone down the dark political career pathway.

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