Howard County Prosecutors Advise Police Against Releasing Footage from Officer-Involved Shooting

Howard County Prosecutors Advise Police Against Releasing Footage from Officer-Involved Shooting

Community members press department for answers about death of Silver Spring's Robert White

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Police investigate the scene of an officer-involved shooting in a Silver Spring townhome community earlier this month.

JANA OWENS

Montgomery County police have decided to hold off on releasing body camera footage from the fatal officer-involved shooting of an unarmed black man in Silver Spring earlier this month.

The idea of making the video public was discussed Monday during a meeting between detectives and Howard County prosecutors, who are doing an independent review of the shooting investigation. The Howard County state’s attorney’s office “requested that the Police Department not release the footage at this time as such release could potentially have an adverse impact” on the prosecutors’ investigation and any possible court proceedings, authorities wrote in a news release.

The department and prosecutors will revisit the issue later on, the release continued.

Members of the community have been pressing for more information about the police shooting that killed Robert Lawrence White of Dearborn Avenue on June 11. More than 600 people from Montgomery County signed on to a letter expressing concern about White’s death during the encounter with Officer Anand Badgujar in a Silver Spring townhome community.

“Some of us are neighbors of Mr. White and knew him as a kind and gentle person who enjoyed taking daily walks around our neighborhoods,” stated the June 20 letter to Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger, County Executive Ike Leggett and County Council member Marc Elrich.

Badgujar reportedly came across White walking in the 9200 block of Three Oaks Drive near downtown Silver Spring and began investigating him as a suspicious person, although it’s still unclear why the officer found White’s behavior questionable. White ended up becoming “combative” during the interaction and attacking the officer, and Badgujar fired multiple shots while being assaulted, according to police. White later died at a local hospital.

The department’s account was based on an eyewitness statement and on footage from the body-worn cameras of Badgujar and another officer who arrived on the scene.

Some community members have raised questions about Badgujar’s approach to White, 41, whose friends said he suffered from mental illness.

They also noted that Montgomery County police reported that officers used force 523 times in 2017, with two-thirds of these situations involving people of color. There were three fatal police shootings last year. The department reported that were more than 200,000 service calls to police in the county last year.

“[W]hat happened to Mr. White is not an isolated incident. Across the country, Black people, as well as those with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities, face significant and often life-threatening risks in encounters with law enforcement officers. Montgomery County is unique in many ways, but it is by no means an exception to this troubling pattern. This must change,” community members wrote in their recent letter to authorities.

Badgujar, 32, a two-year veteran of the department, has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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