Maryland AG releases video of fatal shooting involving Harford lawmakers

The Maryland Attorney General on Thursday released footage of a fatal shooting by Harford County Sheriff’s Deputies that showed an April standoff in which a man pointed a stick at officers as if it were a gun before the deputies fired.

The case drew attention when Attorney General Brian E. Frosh successfully sued for a restraining order against Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler, who Frosh said was obstructing his office’s investigation by withholding the footage and other evidence. The lawsuit was part of Frosh’s efforts to effect a police accountability measure passed by the Legislature issuing the orders state officials, and non-local law enforcement agencies, to independently investigate such shootings.

The case is among 19 deaths involving police in Maryland since October, all of which have been reviewed by the Independent Investigations Division, an agency established last year as part of broader efforts to increase accountability and transparency in policing amid the national outcry for change sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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The video, a compilation of body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras, shows lawmakers responding to “a report of a suicidal person with access to firearms” on the afternoon of April 23, according to the attorney general’s office. They found 53-year-old John Raymond Fauver, who was about to be shot after a nine-minute pause while driving a pickup truck near a mall.

Prosecutors declined to bring charges against the MPs, categorizing Fauver’s death a “law enforcement suicide,” a lawyer for Fauver’s wife and estate says her response fell short of what is expected of officers dealing with someone in a mental health crisis.

“He had struggles in life,” said attorney Cary Hansel. His wife “was concerned that he might harm himself. He left after an argument in a vehicle, and she called and tried to get the police to help. … This is a man who needed help, whose family called because he needed help.”

Gahler said Fauver left his MPs little choice. “Mental health is important to us,” he said. “We give our best”

“Our MPs were led to believe by Mr Fauver and his relatives that he was in possession of firearms,” ​​Gahler said. “And indeed, after the tragic events of that day, two rifles and a shotgun were recovered from Mr. Fauver’s truck.”

Newly released video shows MPs forcing Fauver’s truck to stop and Sgt Bradford Sives orders him at gunpoint.

“Hands up! Hands up! Hands up!” Sives screams.

Fauver rolls down his window. He’s holding his cell phone and seems to be talking to someone. “Look at that!” he says and looks at the deputies who are approaching him. When a deputy sheriff opens the driver’s door of his truck, Fauver yells an expletive and reverses, tires squealing and ramming a sheriff’s vehicle parked behind him.

Fauver then whips forward and Sives fires his pistol at the truck’s tires several times. As the deputies pursue him, Fauver stops again.

The MPs gather and Fauver yells, “Get your snipers, lads!”

“Don’t do it John, just show us your hands! It’s not worth it, John!” Sives yells, now carrying a shotgun.

According to the sheriff’s office, Fauver can be heard on body camera footage saying, “You know what it is, it’s an AR-15 hollow point ready for action…come on.” Then: “My hands will never go up.” … Everyone ready for their shot?” And minutes later: “Bring out the sniper.”

During the standoff, as Fauver gets in and out of his truck and MPs keep their distance and take cover, Sives asks if any MP has a “less-lethal long-range weapon” or a pepperball gun, the video shows. It is unclear whether he will get an answer.

“He reaches into the vehicle again,” Sives then warns nearby police officers. But when Fauver appears, Sives yells, “That’s a cane! It’s a stick! It’s a stick!’

Then, when asked by another MP, Sives replied: ‘Yes, he has guns in the car, folks. We don’t know if they’re locked up or what.”

“Just come out with your hands up!” Sives then yells at Fauver. “Stop grabbing. We’re here to help you.” Another MP is heard yelling, “Come out with your hands up. We don’t want to shoot you.” Sives, while radioing other MPs to their location, instructs a local MP: “Keep talking to him. You know him.”

Approximately nine minutes into the standoff, video was captured by the bodycam of Cpl. Christopher Maddox shows him on the corner of a brick building, considerably further from Fauver. As Maddox points his pistol at Fauver in the distance, the camera captures him saying, “He grabs, he grabs. … He has a gun. He’s got the gun!”

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Maddox’s camera shows Fauver getting out of his truck and Maddox shooting at him. Dashboard video from another sheriff’s vehicle shows Fauver more clearly at that moment. He reaches into his truck and comes out with a long object. He appears to adopt a shooting stance and directs it at the deputies.

In the seconds before Maddox fires, Sives’ camera captures someone, apparently Sives, warning nearby police officers a second time that the object is a stick. “It’s a stick! It’s a stick! It’s a stick!” the deputy yells, apparently out of Maddox’s earshot. Then comes the sound of Maddox shooting. Then Sives, despite warning a moment ago that Fauver was holding a stick, fires his own shotgun. Then he yells, “Cease fire! To cease fire! To cease fire!”

Gahler said Thursday it was not clear who shouted, “That’s a cane!”

Fauver was pronounced dead in a hospital.

Harford County District Attorney Albert J. Peisinger Jr. ruled last month that no charges would be filed against the officers in the case. In a letter to the sheriff, Peisinger said the use of force was “both necessary and proportionate and NOT unreasonable in these circumstances.”

Hansel accused Sives of “contagious fire” and the sheriff’s office for not having a less deadly option ready during the standoff.

“There is a lack of training for officers to deal with and avoid contagious fire, there is a lack of long-range, non-lethal alternatives such as bean bags or pepper balls,” said Hansel. He said avoiding these mistakes would have made it possible to take this man into custody without killing him.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a Crisis Advisor by sending a message to the Crisis Text Line on 741741. Maryland AG releases video of fatal shooting involving Harford lawmakers

Dustin Huang

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