Activists are outraged after Howard County prosecutors requested that Montgomery County Police do not release body camera video showing the fatal June 11, police shooting of an unarmed man.
Montgomery County Police Officer Anand Badgujar fatally shot Robert Lawrence White, after police allege he became combative, reported The Sentinel.
The Howard County State’s Attorney’s office is in charge of the investigation into the killing. They do not want the video released because the investigation is ongoing.
“We asked the police to not release the video at this point in the investigation,” T. Wayne Kirwan, a spokesperson for the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office said.
Activists have demanded more information about the shooting, as well as video to actually see it rather than take the killer’s word for it. They have also demanded information on the department’s de-escalation training and mandatory implicit-bias training for police officers.
“Across the country, black people, as well as those with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities, face significant and often life-threatening risks in encounters with law enforcement officers,” a coalition of advocacy groups wrote in a letter to Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger and County Executive Ike Leggett.“ Montgomery County is unique in many ways, but it is by no means an exception to this troubling pattern. This must change.”
According to police, the June 11 shooting started when Badgujar approached White. White charged and attempted to hit Badgujar, but missed. Badgujar then attempt to pepper spray White, but he missed.
The Sentinel reported, “White then walked away, while Badgujar went to his police cruiser to turn off the ignition. According to police, White then turned and ran toward the officer, who backpedaled away. White apparently then knocked Badgujar down, whereupon Badgujar fired his gun at White, who then fell, got up again, and continued to strike Badgujar while the officer was lying on the ground. Badgujar then fired off several more shots, killing White. Manger said the confrontation between White and Badgujar lasted about two minutes.”
Pastor Christopher Zacharias said White had struggled with mental health issues.
“He did have some mental challenges, which was being taken care of not only through counseling but also through medication,” Zaacharias said.
In 2015 a court found “good cause to believe the defendant may be incompetent to stand trial” on a misdemeanor trespassing case after an examination by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Activists are also questioning what training police officers receive to deal with people who have mental illnesses.