POLITICS

State Trooper Kills Unarmed Suspect As He Attempts To Flee, Police Say

"A physical struggle was going on, the suspect was able to get his key into the ignition, get the vehicle started," a Maryland State Police spokesman said.

Maryland authorities are investigating the fatal shooting of an unarmed man killed Friday by a state police trooper.

Trooper Daryl K. Brackett shot and killed 30-year-old Charles S. Hall during a struggle in a Walmart parking lot in Cecil County, Maryland, police officials said. Police said the man resisted arrest, got into a physical altercation with the trooper and was attempting to flee the scene in his car when he was fatally shot.

Brackett was responding to an unrelated call when he recognized the suspect as the target of an outstanding arrest warrant for theft, said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley. Brackett attempted to take Hall into custody shortly before 9 p.m. but, according to Shipley, Hall began fighting with Brackett.

"[Brackett] advised [Hall] he was under arrest, the man refused to submit, resisted and a physical altercation began between the wanted person and the trooper," Shipley said, according to CBS affiliate WJZ. "This actually moved to the driver’s side of the suspect’s vehicle, a physical struggle was going on, the suspect was able to get his key into the ignition, get the vehicle started."

The fighting continued as Hall began to accelerate out of the parking space, Shipley said. Brackett then fired a single fatal shot into Hall's upper torso.

“They [Brackett and Hall] were together," said Shipley, according to local newspaper the Cecil Whig. "It wasn’t like the trooper was standing back and fired.”

Hall was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a video uploaded to YouTube on Friday, which appears to have been taken by a bystander in the parking lot shortly after the shooting, a woman who claims to be Hall's wife accuses the trooper of murdering her husband.

“You are a murderer! He was not armed! He was not fucking armed! You killed my husband!” the woman says, as other officers restrain her. 

The man filming the video can be heard saying the trooper "got on [Hall's] lap and shot him," as he attempted to drive away. Another bystander says that the trooper maced Hall before he got into his vehicle.

Both Hall and Brackett are white. Police said they found a folding knife in the console of Hall's vehicle, but that he was not armed during the altercation. Hall had recently failed to appear at drug treatment court, a violation of the terms of his probation stemming from a conviction last month on separate theft charges, according to the Cecil Whig.

The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit and Maryland State Police Internal Affairs Unit are investigating the incident, said Shipley. Brackett, a three-year-veteran of the Maryland State Police force, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, a standard procedure for police-involved shootings.

Police in Maryland have killed 13 people this year, according to data collected by The Guardian, though most of those incidents have involved city and county police officers, not state troopers. Eleven of those who died were black and two, including Hall, were white.

In 2014, a Maryland State Police trooper fatally shot a man in Salisbury as he tried to drive away from a police barracks, allegedly striking a trooper with his vehicle in the process. A state attorney ultimately determined that there was no probable cause to charge the troopers involved in that case.