Montgomery County police officer won’t be prosecuted for shooting unarmed man
The Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office this week cleared Montgomery County police officer Anand Badgujar of any wrongdoing in the June 11th shooting that killed an unarmed Silver Spring man, 41-year-old Robert Lawrence White.
In a letter to Montgomery County Police, Howard County State’s Attorney Dario Broccolino said that his office will not press charges against Badgujar, 32, who shot and killed White, an unarmed African-American man after an afternoon confrontation in a parking lot.
“After reviewing all of the pertinent evidence and after a thorough review of the law, by myself and the members of our Senior Staff, we have, unanimously, concluded that Officer Badgujar’s actions were justified under the circumstances. As a result, no further action will be taken by this office,” Broccolino wrote to Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger.
According to a source close to the investigation, the confrontation between Badgujar and White began when Badgujar approached White near the 9200 block of Three Oaks Drive in Silver Spring. After Badgujar approached White, White charged and attempted to hit Badgujar, but White’s punch did not land. That led to Badgujar’s attempt to pepper spray White, but he missed. According to police, the situation escalated from there, as Badgujar requested backup, and went to turn off the ignition to his police cruiser. While Badgujar was going to turn off the ignition, White then ran at Badgujar, knocking him down. As Badgujar fell, he discharged his weapon. At this point, White also fell, got up, stood over Badgujar and began to assault him. Badgujar then fired multiple shots at White, killing him.
Public information officers from Montgomery County Police said that the body-camera footage from Badgujar, along with body-camera footage from another officer and video from a bystander who witnessed some of the confrontation, confirms their accounts of the events. While police have not released any of the body-camera footage, the police body-camera videos from the event will likely be made publicly available sometime this week, according to police.
The shooting stirred controversy among many county residents, who see White’s death as another killing of an unarmed African-American male by a police officer.
“It remains unclear why the officer stopped a man out for a walk in his own neighborhood and how a situation materialized in which the officer chose to shoot Mr. White instead of engaging in de-escalation actions that would have brought about a peaceful resolution,” said Sue Udry, from the a coalition of social justice advocacy groups that have met with Manger about the shooting. Udry said she is demanding the police release all evidence and information related to the shooting, including the report that Howard County prosecutors made when they investigated the shooting. For some residents, the shooting was especially egregious, as many believed White to be suffering from some sort of mental illness.
While White’s neighbors said that White had a mental illness or psychological disorder, they could not confirm the type. In November 2015, a Montgomery County District Court judge committed White to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for “examination as to competency to stand trial” in a misdemeanor trespassing case. The court found “good cause to believe the defendant may be incompetent to stand trial” per an evaluation by the pretrial supervision unit.
While Badgujar will not be charged with a crime, he could still face disciplinary action from Montgomery County Police, as an internal review of the incident begins. As per the police department’s policy, internal affairs investigations can start only after a criminal investigation into the officer's actions is over.
For Udry and other activists, the shooting is part of a nationwide phenomenon of police killings, in which an officer shot and killed an unarmed AfricanAmerican man.
“Black people like Mr. White are more likely to be stopped, frisked, and arrested in this country, and they are more likely to face violence at the hands of police officers than white people. Black people who have disabilities face a double jeopardy,” Udry said. “Montgomery County is not an exception to this troubling pattern. The residents of our county and Mr. White’s family deserve better.”
Body-camera video of the incident has been released by Montgomery County Police on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgPIE467Uww&feature=youtu.be.