Baltimore County withholds body camera footage in three police shootings

Initial plans announced in 2015 called for a gradual roll-out of body cameras through December 2018 — but last fall, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and then-Police Chief Jim Johnson announced the county would speed up the program so that more than 1,400 officers would have cameras by the end of this September.

The county’s acceleration of the program came after a series of incidents that brought scrutiny to the police force, including the fatal police shooting of 23-year-old Korryn Gaines and wounding of her 5-year-old son in August 2016 during a standoff in Randallstown. The county’s body camera program had begun weeks earlier, and the shooting was not recorded.

Through a spokeswoman, Kamenetz declined to comment for this article.

“The County Executive has been clear from the beginning that footage from police body cameras has been and will continue to be released without delay as soon as it can be determined that the release of the footage will not compromise an ongoing investigation,” spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said in a statement to The Sun.

The county police department underwent a change in leadership in January, whenKamenetz replaced Johnson with Terry Sheridan, who had previously served as chief in the county.

During Johnson’s tenure as chief, police body cameras caught one shooting on video, and the department released the footage.

In that case in December, an officer shot and wounded a Pikesville man who opened the door of his apartment carrying a knife and saying, “Time to die! Time to die!” County prosecutors ruled the shooting justified.

In January, Sheridan released footage of the first shooting involving a police officer under his watch — an officer fatally shot 59-year-old Kerry Lee Coomer of Overlea, who police said threatened his family and raised a “powerful scoped rifle” as an officer talked to him.

Armacost said the department was able to release that footage quickly because, unlike the three subsequent police shootings, the case did not result in charges against a suspect who would go on to face trial.

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