Attorneys ask court to force Baltimore police to release details in shooting of boy with BB gun

Attorneys building a case against Baltimore police are asking a court to force the department to name the officers who shot a boy carrying a toy gun last year and those who arrested his mother.The attorneys are seeking a court order for badge numbers and...

Attorneys ask court to force Baltimore police to release details in shooting of boy with BB gun

Attorneys building a case against Baltimore police are asking a court to force the department to name the officers who shot a boy carrying a toy gun last year and those who arrested his mother.

The attorneys are seeking a court order for badge numbers and police reports from the April 2016 shooting in East Baltimore. They intend to sue the department for "excessive force, illegal arrest, false imprisonment, deprivation of liberty and property, false arrest, assault, battery," they wrote in a complaint filed last week in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

State law bars the attorneys from suing an unnamed officer.

The boy, Dedric Colvin, was walking to neighborhood basketball courts near East Baltimore and Aisquith streets to show friends a BB gun he found in an alley behind his house, his attorneys wrote. It was April 27, 2016, and two plainclothes officers began running toward Dedric, 14. The boy ran and the officers yelled stop.

"Dedric informed them the gun was 'just a toy' and 'not real' and threw the BB gun to the ground," his attorneys wrote. "As Dedric, who was unarmed, proceeded to kneel to the ground with his hands in the air, one of the officers fired two shots at him, striking him twice."

The Baltimore City Council is considering a citywide ban on toy guns that are made to look like pistols, machine guns and rifles — and have been linked to shootings in Baltimore and cities across the country.

In April, police in East Baltimore shot and wounded a 14-year-old middle-school student...

The Baltimore City Council is considering a citywide ban on toy guns that are made to look like pistols, machine guns and rifles — and have been linked to shootings in Baltimore and cities across the country.

In April, police in East Baltimore shot and wounded a 14-year-old middle-school student...

Dedric was shot once in his shoulder and once in his calf. An eighth-grader at City Springs Middle School at the time, he was awake and alert in the hospital by the next morning, though in pain.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis defended the officers, saying police can't afford to hesitate and discover if a gun is real. The department held a press conference and displayed side-by-side a Beretta semiautomatic pistol and identical-looking BB gun. Davis said one witnesses reported that Dedric was still holding the toy gun when he stopped and turned toward officers. The witness, Davis said, described the boy as raising the toy gun.

After a youth, Dedric Colvin, holding what Baltimore police said was a "replica" gun was shot by a detective, Maj. Deron Garrity talks to a person he identifies as the wounded boy's brother, Alvin Colvin, and tries to explain what happened. Garrity is the Southeastern Disctrict commander. (Courtesy Rickey Gibbs Jr.)

After a youth, Dedric Colvin, holding what Baltimore police said was a "replica" gun was shot by a detective, Maj. Deron Garrity talks to a person he identifies as the wounded boy's brother, Alvin Colvin, and tries to explain what happened. Garrity is the Southeastern Disctrict commander. (Courtesy Rickey Gibbs Jr.)

The shooting emerged as a flashpoint in the debate over imitation toy guns in a city plagued by violence. Citing Dedric's case, the Baltimore City Council in December banned toy guns that resemble working handguns and rifles. Gun-rights advocates opposed the bill, which set fines of $250 for those carrying look-alike guns.

The shooting also recalled the death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was shot by a police officer in November 2014 after he brandished a toy gun in a public park. The City of Cleveland agreed to pay $6 million to settle a federal lawsuit brought by Rice's family.

Police identified the officer who shot Dedric as Thomas Smith, a 12-year veteran. Smith and another officer, a six-year veteran who was not named, were leaving police headquarters when they saw the boy walking with the BB gun. Dedric's mother, Volanda Young, found her son shot in the street.

"Upon Ms. Young's arrival, officers shouted at her and told her to 'back the f--- up' while pointing tasers at her," Dedric's attorneys wrote. "The officers then arrested Ms. Young, took her to a police station, put her in a cell and detained her."

Davis has said Young was acting belligerent, and his officers made a judgment call during a tense situation. Neither the mother nor her son will be charged, Davis has said.

Attorneys for the family want the names and badge numbers of officers who detained Young and any others involved in the shooting of Dedric. The attorneys from Murphy, Falcon & Murphy had previously won a $6.4 million settlement for the family of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who died April 2015 of spinal injuries suffered in police custody.

The attorneys wrote that they've requested records of Dedric's shooting, but have been refused by police amid the ongoing investigation. Now they're asking the court for authority to depose police for the names and numbers.

The investigation into the shooting remains unresolved by the Baltimore state's attorney's office. Police routinely withhold such evidence and records until investigations conclude. But the attorneys risk surpassing the statute of limitations if they continue to wait, they told the court.

On Sunday, police said they await the determination from the state's attorney's office. They declined to comment further.

tprudente@baltsun.com

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