2020 | Police & Fire

Police release body camera footage of officer fatally shooting man in White Oak

Officer repeatedly orders man with butcher’s knife to get on ground, shoots when man runs at him

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Montgomery County police on Friday released body camera footage showing an officer shooting a man on Thursday in the White Oak area after the man ran at the officer with a knife.

Police also identified the officer as Sgt. David Cohen, a 17-year veteran of the department.

Cohen shot 30-year-old Finan H. Berhe on Thursday afternoon in the 1500 block of Hadden Manor Court, police said.

The footage from Cohen’s body camera shows the man with the knife running toward the officer when he gets to the scene. Cohen aims his gun at the man and orders him to get on the ground, which causes the man to stop and slowly backpedal.

After several more seconds of Cohen telling the man to get on the ground and saying “I don’t want to shoot you,” the man, still holding the butcher’s knife, makes a second dash at the officer.

Cohen fires multiples shots, dropping the man to the ground in a parking lot.

Berhe was taken to a hospital, where he later died of his injuries, police said on Thursday.

Police released Cohen’s name in a press release Friday evening, after identifying Berhe in a separate press release earlier in the day. Police posted the video, which is graphic, on Twitter and it is available online.

The body camera video shows the confrontation happening in the parking lot of a residential complex.

The 1 minute, 28 second video shows Cohen getting out of his police vehicle about 27 seconds in. After Cohen tells Berhe to put the knife down, he calls for backup.

The video then shows Cohen telling Berhe to get on the ground at least five times as Berhe backs up toward the sidewalk. During the fifth command, Cohen says, “Get on the ground. I don’t want to shoot you.”

The video then shows Berhe running toward Cohen. Cohen fires multiple shots and Berhe falls to the ground.

Police said Cohen has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is the department’s policy for all officer-involved shootings.

The case will be reviewed by the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office under a reciprocal agreement between Montgomery and Howard counties.

Police said the shooting remains under investigation, and they are asking anyone with information to call them at 240-773-5070.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com