Another unarmed black man has been killed by Baltimore County police. Early Thursday morning, officers were responding to a domestic violence report at a home in the suburb of Owings Mills – a home to which police had been called 17 times in the past three years – when the shooting occurred. The victim, 41-year-old Spencer Lee McCain, died at a Baltimore hospital at approximately 8:00 a.m.
Shortly after 1:00 a.m. on Thursday morning, a child, 10, who resided in the condominium, phoned grandmother Rochelle Byrd, who called 911 to report a possible domestic disturbance. Baltimore County Chief of Police Jim Johnson said the first arriving officer was familiar with the address on the 3000 block of Hunting Ridge Drive, and knew there had been a history of domestic disturbance reports at the Owings Mills residence, including reports of physical fights.
Upon arriving, the first responding officer could hear screams of help emanating from the home. At that time, said Johnson, “fearing that someone was in imminent danger of injury or death,” three police officers broke into the home. Upon entering, the three officers found McCain, who they described as being in a “defensive position,” and moving in such a way as to make police believe that he was armed. Each of the three officers fired their weapons, and McCain was struck multiple times.
According to police, a total of 19 shell casings were discovered on the floor where Baltimore police killed unarmed McCain, who is black. No weapons were recovered from McCain. Johnson would not give further details as to the nature of the “defensive position” taken by the victim, nor why officers believed him to have a weapon.
According to officials, Shannon Sulton, who resides in the condo, is an “estranged associate” of McCain. When police spoke with her on Thursday morning, she was swollen above her eyes, cut on both sides of her mouth and had scratches on her arms. She told Johnson that McCain had said he would give her “the beating [she] deserve[d].” She declined to be treated off-site for her injuries.
Police said that in October of 2014, Sulton had filed for and received an order for protection against McCain due to domestic violence. The order, which banned McCain from his children’s home and schools and from owning firearms, was in place on Thursday and due to expire on Oct. 8.
At the time of the shooting, the 10-year-old child, who had initially phoned Byrd, and another child, 2, were inside the home. Although there is a third child who resides in the home, he or she was not there during the incident. According to The Baltimore Sun, Byrd said that all three children were McCain’s and Sultan’s. The two had been on and off for years, she said, although she did not know McCain very well.
A search of court records by The Sun revealed that McCain had previously been charged with second-degree assault, but that the charge had been placed in inactive status in 2004. He did have a 1992 conviction for gun possession, for which he was given a suspended sentence of six months.
One of the officers who struck McCain was black. Police notified the president of the Baltimore County NAACP branch, Tony Fugett, of the situation. Fugett explained that every shooting in which police are involved creates concern, but that the NAACP will investigate the situation and wait for the official report. “We don’t like to jump to any conclusions.”
On April 19, 2015, the death of an African-American man, Freddie Gray, who died while in the custody of Baltimore police, sparked riots and protests throughout the city, which is predominately black. Gray was found to have died of a spinal injury. Criminal charges have been filed against six police officers involved.
All three police officers involved in the shooting of McCain are now on administrative duty. Fox45 is identifying them as Officers Wilkes, Besaw and Stargel, who have been with the Baltimore County Police Department for six, eight and five years, respectively.
The case, in which another unarmed black man has been killed by Baltimore police, will be investigated by homicide detectives from the Baltimore County police before undergoing reviews by the department’s own shooting review board and the chief of police. When internal investigations are complete, the findings will be turned over to the Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office.
Written and Edited by Jennifer Pfalz
The Baltimore Sun: Unarmed man shot, killed by Baltimore County officers in Owings Mills
PressTV: Baltimore police probing new shooting of unarmed black man
Fox45 Baltimore: Police: 3 officers identified after police involved shooting on Thursday