An off-duty officer from Anne Arundel County, Maryland has fatally shot a robber wielding a toy gun, after the suspect attempted to deprive him of his belongings at gun point.
The incident took place in Linthicum Heights on Saturday night, at approximately 1:36 a.m. A police officer, whose identity has not been released to the public, had just finished his shift when he was approached by a burglar, upon descending from his vehicle in the 100 block of Homewood Road.
The perpetrator threatened him with a black revolver, and asked him to surrender his money. That’s when the policeman, who was not wearing his uniform at the time, pretended to reach out for his wallet and instead took out his own gun from a bookbag and shot the mugger several times, from a close distance.
The suspect, later identified as 32-year old Edel Cato Moreland, had actually been trying to commit the burglary using an extremely realistic toy gun, so he immediately tried to escape from the barrage of bullets.
However, due to his extensive injuries, he soon fell unconscious on a nearby street from that residential neighborhood, and was declared dead at the scene, when first responders arrived hoping that they could still offer him medical assistance.
An investigation is currently under way, led by the Baltimore City Police Department, in conjunction with the Anne Arundel County Police Department.
The purpose is to determine how exactly the events unfolded, and if there was any excessive or unjustified use of force by the officer.
The incident has occurred during a period where the actions of police have faced great scrutiny, especially when it comes to racial profiling and fatal shootings involving unarmed African-Americans. However, in this case both Moreland and the cop are actually Caucasian, so racial tension isn’t taken into account as a contributing factor.
Apparently, the assailant had been destitute and roofless for the last several weeks. While Moreland did have a criminal record with several drug charges and a guilty plea for assault in the second degree, his family has still expressed doubts that he could ever commit a violent armed robbery.
So far, preliminary information shared with the media by Lieutenant Ryan Frashure suggests that the off-duty cop truly believed that the robber’s gun was real, especially since it was pitch dark outside. Therefore, it appears the officer acted solely in self-defense, given that the weapon had been directed straight at him.
Detectives who found the fake revolver while examining the scene of the crime have admitted that the handgun does indeed appear authentic at first, but upon closer inspection it turns out to be a mere toy.
The 41-year old policeman, who had been working with the department for the last 18 years, as part of the Special Operations Unit, has been placed on administrative leave, as the investigation continues.
While his version of the events seems plausible so far, detectives are still canvassing the area in search for potential clues, so as to aid the state’s Attorney Office in establishing if any charges should be laid after all.
Anyone who witnessed the police shooting as it unfolded should immediately contact the Anne Arundel County Police tip line at 410-222-4700 or its Homicide Unit at 410-222-4731. Alternatively, they can submit relevant information to Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland.
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