Well over a year before Baltimore Police killed Freddie Gray, revealing elements of systemized sadism by that department, another man was shot by on-duty officers in cold-blood. Two officers initially fired on the man who they claim ‘reached down’ after being asked to raise his hands. A third officer, Wesley Cagle, who is being charged in the incident, then shot the already wounded suspect in grisly act of malice. According to CNN:
A total of four officers responded to a reported commercial burglary in progress at about 4:45 a.m. on December 28. Two of them saw a masked suspect, identified as 46-year-old Michael Johansen, try to sneak out the store’s side door.
Two officers — neither of which was Cagle — confronted that man and told him to show his hands. Instead, the “suspect reached down,” the office said.
“In fear for their safety, those two officers discharged their departmental issued firearms multiple times, striking the burglary suspect several times and causing him to fall to the floor,” [State Attorney Marilyn] Mosby’s office said.
That’s when Cagle entered the picture, walking in front of the other two officers who were standing nearby with their guns drawn.
“Officer Cagle positioned himself over top of Johansen, at which time Johansen stated, ‘What did you shoot me with, a beanbag?'” Mosby told reporters Wednesday. “And Officer Cagle replied, ‘No, a .40-caliber, you piece of (expletive).”
By that point, said the state’s attorney, witnesses didn’t see the fallen suspect as a threat; he wasn’t making “any aggressive or threatening movements.”
Yet “Officer Cagle … took aim and fired his .40-caliber department-issued firearm one time, striking Johansen in the groin area,” Mosby said.
The incident occurred in December 2014. Cable, a 14-year BPD veteran, was then placed on administrative leave and was stripped of his police powers the following month. On Wednesday he was suspended without pay pending the results of his trial. He faces five charges ranging from attempted first-degree murder to second-degree assault. If found guilty of them all, he faces a maximum sentence of 85 years in prison.
The three other officers, including the two others who fired, were not found responsible of any wrong doing in an investigation conducted by the BPD and the state attorney.
Johansen was taken to the hospital and survived his deadly police encounter, eventually being charged with burglary.
Since the death of Freddie Gray and the indictment of the six officers involved there have been numerous reports of widespread and long term brutality by the Baltimore Police Department and the culture that supports them. A police van was found to have been decorated with a sadistic and telling sign that said “Enjoy your ride, cuz we sure will!”
The department seems to be struggling to prove it can hold itself accountable in the wake of all of the horrors that have been revealed about its practices and culture. The absence of the other two officers who fired on the unarmed subject in the criminal charges seems to show they are less concerned with accountability than mere appearances. Nothing so broken has ever been fixed by cleaning only the wreckage on the surface.