Two Baltimore cops who shot a mentally ill man as he wielded knives and a cane on Friday were commended by their police union president.
“We support Officers Jones and Brown and commend them on their actions as they did what was necessary to protect the lives of many others, as well as their own,” said Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 President Gene Ryan.
Video footage of the shooting was released on Wednesday after about 30 protesters assembled at the scene of the shooting last week.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the department released the video in the interest of transparency.
“With transparency comes responsibility and it’s our responsibility, we believe, to share it with our community,” Davis said. “We believe it is making us better as an agency. We believe it is improving police-community relations and accountability.”
Baltimore cops Gary Brown and Supreme Jones responded to the scene after receiving a call at around 9:30 a.m. about a man behaving erratically, threatening people on the street with knives and a cane.
The man, who police say is mentally ill, can be heard screaming, “Hey, I got one life to live and I’m ready to give it. I did my job.”
Police shout commands at him to drop the knife.
After the man ignores commands, officers attempt to Taser him, but the Taser prong doesn’t connect, although it isn’t clear if the Taser was ineffective or if the cop firing the Taser simply missed.
Brown and Jones fire several rounds, striking the man twice.
In the video, the knife-wielding man does not appear to be a direct threat to the officers at the time gunshot rang out.
Body cam footage shows officers and paramedics
The man, who has not been identified, had a history of mental illness and had attempted suicide.
It’s unclear if he’ll be criminally charged, but the man remains under police guard at a Baltimore hospital.
Chief of Media Relations for Baltimore Police T.J. Smith stated officers are equipped with non-lethal means other than a Taser, but said that would unsafely move officers into hand-to-hand combat with the man.
“The Taser is the one you can use with distance,” Smith said adding that people wear more clothing in the winter, which makes Tasers less effective.
Footage from the shooting marks the first time Baltimore police have released a body cam video since the department implemented body cams for about 600 of its 3,000 officers.
Brown and Jones were placed on administrative leave.