Four Baltimore Police officers fired three dozen rounds at a man who shot at police while fleeing in Southwest Baltimore earlier this month, authorities said Friday as they released body camera footage of the fatal shooting.
The police fatally shot Hunter Jessup, 27, on Nov. 7 in the Millhill neighborhood.
The Independent Investigations Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, which reviews all fatal police shootings, last week identified the officers who fired their weapons as William Healy, Brittany Routh, Justin Oliva and Brandon Columbo.
Video from the four officers shows them pursuing Jessup, who was wearing a gray sweatshirt and sweatpants, as he ran on the sidewalk. He turned around and aimed what police called a handgun with an extended magazine as officers repeatedly yelled for him to drop his weapon.
Deputy Commissioner Brian Nadeau said Jessup shot at officers, creating a bullet hole on a parked car that appears in the footage. The Independent Investigations Division said in a news release last week that ballistics evidence “was consistent” with him firing his gun.
Officers fired about 36 rounds at Jessup, Nadeau said, but it’s unclear how many hit him.
Asked when police are trained to fire, Police Commissioner Richard Worley said it would be the moment Jessup turned.
“I can’t speak for the officers but being an officer, as soon as he turns to me with his weapon and he points that weapon at me, that means he’s going to try to kill me or shoot me and I would shoot right back at him,” Worley said.
He said officers in such scenarios are taught to “shoot to incapacitate.”
The encounter began when two teams from the Southwest District Action Team, each composed of three officers, spotted two people on the sidewalk near Brunswick and St. Benedict streets at about 12:30 p.m., Nadeau said. Officers in one car asked the men to lift up their shirts to show if they were armed.
“It’s an area where we’ve had a lot of violence in the past,” Worley said of the neighborhood.
Footage from an officer sitting in the backseat shows one man lifting his hoodie to show his waistband.
Nadeau said when Jessup lifted his shirt, police saw “a bulge,” a moment not captured on video. When officers got out of the car, Jessup ran, Nadeau said.
Some officers pursued Jessup on foot as he ran onto the 2600 block of Wilkens Avenue, while a car with its sirens on turned and followed him onto Wilkens Avenue, the videos show.
Footage from Routh shows her getting out of the car and running toward Jessup from the front as he holds a gun in one hand. She tried to grab him, but missed, and he ran past her. As Routh falls to the ground, Jessup turned toward Healy in the street behind him, and raised a gun.
“We do know he shot because we can see he shot,” said Nadeau, referring to the hole that appears in a parked car.
Police said Friday that the gun they recovered was a Glock 23 with an extended magazine, and that casings on the ground matched rounds found inside its chamber. Officials said the gun, composed of parts of various guns put together, still is being tested.
The videos show Jessup falling to the sidewalk amid the sounds of rapid gunfire, as multiple officers ordered him “drop it, drop it.” Officers approached him on the ground and kicked the gun away from his body.
Jessup was initially “still conscious and alert,” Nadeau said, but then passed out. Police began administering aid after about a minute and a half and applied a tourniquet, he said.
Police spokesperson Lindsey Eldridge said Friday that officers called for a medic at 12:34 p.m. and an ambulance arrived at 12:39 p.m. She could not immediately provide the time the ambulance left the scene but confirmed an officer was taken to the hospital in a police car.
On Oct. 1, under a new law, the attorney general’s office gained the authority to prosecute police in fatal shootings, in-custody deaths or deaths following police pursuits. Previously, the state unit investigated fatalities, but local prosecutors decided whether or not to bring charges against officers.
Relatives and friends said Jessup was a “stand up guy” who lived in the area and was about to become a first-time father.
Members of the department’s District Action Teams, specialized squads of officers who wear police vests, and can be assigned to patrol or make violent crime arrests, have fired their weapons in two other police shootings this year. The teams also play a role in the city’s Group Violence Reduction Strategy, although police have said officers were not involved in those activities on Nov. 7.
In June, Baltimore officers shot and killed Darryl Gamble, 40, in East Baltimore. Gamble fired at police, according to body camera footage, then officers fired about 40 rounds. Two of the officers who fired were assigned to the Eastern District Action Team and two were Southeast District officers, the attorney general’s office said. Another officer was part of a Southeast/East Side Initiative.
Earlier this year, Officer Cedric Elleby shot and injured a 17-year-old in Shipley Hill less than a mile from the scene of the Nov. 7 shooting. Elleby, a District Action Team member, walked up to the teen because he believed he was armed, then chased him after he fled. The officer could be heard in body-camera footage telling the teen to drop his gun before he shot him from behind.