A Baltimore County officer, along with Baltimore County Police, is under fire following the release of body cam footage from a November 2019 fatal shooting. Footage shows an alleged drunken man repeatedly ignore commands and get out of his vehicle. As he turns, an officer engages the unknown threat in the dark, ultimately killing the man.
Baltimore County Officer Kills Intoxicated, Unarmed Man
The terrible incident began when the suspect’s mother dialed 9-1-1, reporting her son intoxicated, armed and threatening to do harm to himself or others. When officers finally spotted the man, identified as 48-year-old Eric Sopp, they approached with caution.
“The information that was provided to the officers by our dispatchers was that he did have an ice pick earlier in the night when he was threatening the people inside his home. To our officers’ knowledge, he still potentially had that weapon,” Baltimore County Police Officer Jennifer Peach told wbaltv.com.
Footage shows an officer, via body cam, approach the vehicle from the rear, passenger side. The officer repeatedly issues commands to shut off the vehicle, place hands on the wheel, etc. Then Sopp begins to get out of the car, and officers yelled repeatedly for the suspect to stop.
A Tough Situation
“We had two officers traveling behind him. They made a traffic stop. Once they felt they were in a safe place, (they) then made verbal contact with the person. During that exchange, the officers felt threatened. One officer did fire his service weapon,” Peach told wbaltv.com.
But since the release of the video, and the admission the suspect carried no weapon, critics are firing at the police. Sopp’s mother issued a statement criticizing police.
“I never imagined that when I called 9-1-1 to protect my son and other from him driving drunk, it would cost him his life. There was no reason for the officer to shoot and kill him,” Catherine Sopp told baltimore.cbslocal.com.
While tragic and potentially preventable, the officer encountered a terribly difficult situation. The officer faced an alleged intoxicated, armed and potentially violent suspect. So officers proceeded with extra caution. When the suspect failed to listen to commands and warnings, then exited the vehicle, the officer’s options became tougher.