By Talia Richman The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — Body camera footage released Friday in the Baltimore Police shooting that left a suspect dead and an officer and a bystander wounded shows the suspect brandish a gun two separate times before officers unleash a hail of gunfire lasting nearly a minute in total.
In all, police said they recovered 154 shell casings from the scene, which occurred two days after the suspect, Tyrone Banks, allegedly opened fire on one officer and attempted to run another over with his car before leading a police on a high-speed chase through the city.
Commissioner Michael Harrison said at a news conference Friday, that police are still trying to determine if Banks fired his weapon during the Aug. 28 encounter in which he was killed. He also could not answer whether an officer and a woman who was a bystander were injured by police gunfire.
Thirteen police officers fired their weapons; all have been placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation, police said.
“We as a police department have to be accountable for where every one of our rounds ends up and we have to be accountable for collateral injuries,” Harrison said Friday. “Every time we discharge our firearms that is of concern for us.”
Banks’ death ended what police have described as a series of dangerous encounters that began during the incident two days prior. Police say officers called off the chase when Banks’ driving became too dangerous as he fled that initial scene, but they continued to search for him.
Harrison showed a 10 minute video compilation with footage from one officer’s body-worn camera and from the department’s Foxtrot helicopter. Both depict a chaotic scene.
The video begins with an officer responding to a separate call outside a convenience store at Fayette and North Caroline streets near Johns Hopkins Hospital. But then he spots the SUV Banks had been driving days prior, police said.
“He’s got a gun," the officer yells. “Get my rifle!”
Banks speeds off as the officer loads and cocks his gun, the video showed.
Footage from the officer’s perspective then shows an almost four-minute long chase. As the police helicopter follows, the operators also dictate Banks erratic driving as he weaves from south to east through the city’s streets.
“If I would’ve had my rifle out there the first time," the officer said in between heavy breaths.
Banks ends up on Caroline Street, about a block away from where the chase started. Video from the helicopter showed that he drove up onto the sidewalk and crashed into a tree. Then the footage shows him flashing a gun for the second time.
A voice from the helicopter footage says: “He’s pointing a gun, he’s pointing a gun.”
Then the gunfire begins.The noise of bullets spraying across the residential neighborhood can be heard for nearly 30 seconds in the video.
Harrison defended the officers’ actions and said he doesn’t see how they could have deescalated the situation.
“There are some times where you’re only faced with a fraction of a second to make a decision to save a life and provide public safety for all,” Harrison said.
Harrison said officers knew of Banks’ recent history with police during the chase, leading to “heightened concern.”
“This is not anything about what we believe, it’s what we know,” Harrison said about the situation with Banks. “This subject was armed and dangerous. And was and continued to be willing to use his firearm against us.”
Court records show Banks had previously led officers on a 100 mph chase through four districts in 2015 and rammed a police car.
But the commissioner said he believes the officers actions showed courage and bravery but also demonstrated sensitivity to understand the threat Banks posed. He said if there were any missteps during the incident, the investigation will unearth it.
“We have to rely on the people in the field so I have to stand by the decisions that were made,” Harrison said. “Then [after the investigation] we can assess them and take corrective action if necessary.”
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