Between Sept 2010 and June 2013 police in Montgomery County Maryland have shot at least 14 individuals, leaving 9 dead. This is an unusually high number of shootings and killings, considering that this is one of the most affluent counties in the US. Montgomery County is home to the NIH, Bethesda Naval Hospital, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and includes the exclusive enclaves of Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac.
It appears that the majority of homicides in the County during this time period were in fact committed by police. Yet there have been no public inquiries, and no police officers held accountable. The State’s Attorney General, John McCarthy, has failed to investigate and the so has the County Council; the whole administration of the city has turned a blind eye.
While some of the shootings (such as at the Discovery Channel Building) may have been justified, many may not have been, such as the killing of the man with an ice pick, the shooting of a man with a broken bottle and the killing of a bank robbery suspect AFTER the hostage escaped.
It appears that each shooting may be encouraging more shootings, as there have been few if any repercussions against police, creating a sense of impunity. A number of factors may be contributing to this.
Police shootings are generally viewed as internal employment matters investigated by the Police Department. The net result is few if any criminal charges brought against officers involved in shootings and homicides.
The State’s Attorney has failed launch a criminal probe into any of the shootings and killings. Prosecutors are generally loath to initiate a criminal investigation against a police officer.
The fact that most of the victims of the police shootings were minorities, with many engaged in unlawful conduct or exhibiting mental health problems, may also be a factor in the lack of public outcry or interest by the County Council. Racism is certainly a culprit at work.
There are also questions of whether poor police training and lack of experience dealing with violent crime is resulting in the excess and inappropriate use of deadly force. This is no Detroit or Chicago where police are experienced in managing confrontations on a daily basis.
And of course, the increased militarization of the US, nationally, has also allowed the Police to operate with impunity and little fear of reprisals.
Whatever the reason, nine homicides by police in less than three years is unusually high and merits an independent investigation to reduce future civilian casualties.
A chronology of Montgomery County police shootings and homicides
June 2013 Gaithersburg police shoot man at traffic intersection
June 2013 Police were caught on video beating woman and shooting her with a taser
April 2013 Gaithersburg Police taser a man, killing him
Oct 2012 Montgomery County police shoot and kill a man after he threatened to kill himself
June 2012 Montgomery County police shoot and kill a man brandishing a handgun outside a restaurant
Mar 2012 Police and suspect exchange gunfire. Officer wounded, suspect in critical condition
Mar 2012, Police shoot and kill robbery suspect in Takoma Park after hostage escapes
Dec 2011, police kill man who struggled with female officer
June 2011, man dies after being tasered by police
Mar 2011, Police shoot man armed with broken bottle
Feb 2011, MoCo police shoot and kill a man armed with an ice pick
Feb 2011, off duty officer shoots man in leg at traffic stop
Oct 2010, Man dies after being shot with taser and pepper sprayed
Sep 2010, Police shoot and kill suspect who took hostages at Discovery Channel building http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20015383-504083.html
When will there be any independent investigation? Or are the police in Montgomery County Maryland simply a post-modern posse.
See militarized police running rampant across America: