On Wednesday evening, a Maryland man was fatally shot by police after making a gun-like gesture with his hands.
The incident began around 4:50 PM in Reistertown, a suburb 25 miles northwest of Baltimore, when the still unidentified man attempted to obtain cough syrup from a pharmacy using a fake prescription. The pharmacist called the police, who arrived and chased the man across the street.
“Narcotics detectives confirm that the suspect tried to obtain promethazine plus codeine at the Nature Care pharmacy,” Baltimore County police said in a statement. “This is a narcotic cough syrup, often combined with alcohol to produce a ‘high’.”
As the man was fleeing, the police say he was shot three times after “reaching around to the small of his back and abruptly whipping his hand around and pointing it toward the officer, as if with a weapon”.
Witnesses claim the police repeatedly ordered the man to stop, but he continued to flee.
“It was horrible seeing that body,” witness of the aftermath, Jesse Issa, 53, told the Baltimore Sun. “It’s a shame. The violence is unbelievable. Over what? A [expletive] fake prescription? I feel for his parents.”
The police wrote in a statement that the incident was caught on surveillance footage from a nearby business, and that the video shows him refusing to comply and repeatedly reaching for his waistband. No weapon was found on the man’s body, however.
He was transported to the hospital following the shooting, where he was pronounced dead. The police have stated they will disclose the man’s identity once his family has been notified.
The officer who killed him has been placed on paid administrative leave while his department investigates the incident. His name has not yet been released per a union agreement which requires the department to wait 48 hours before doing so. Following the investigation, the case will be reviewed by the Baltimore County district attorney.