State lawmakers heard hours of testimony Tuesday about a slate of Democratic proposals to reform policing in Maryland, in the first of three straight days of hearings on the topic. In addition to civil rights advocates, law enforcement leaders and elected officials, the state Senate Judicial Proceedings committee heard from several residents who spoke about fathers, sons and other family members killed by police in Maryland.
One of them was Tracy Shand, whose 49-year-old brother Leonard was shot and killed by police in Hyattsville almost exactly a year ago.
On Sept. 26, 2019, Leonard was standing in an apartment building parking lot, holding two knives. He reportedly told a police officer he was ready to “embrace death.” After 30 minutes of failed de-escalation efforts by officers from three different police agencies, 10 of those officers shot him.
Earlier this month, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy announced that the officers involved would not be charged with a crime. Her office had hired an outside use-of-force expert, who determined that the officers’ tactics were legal.
“These officers failed to call the medical unit,” Tracy Shand told lawmakers Tuesday. “They used an illegal flash-bang and shot my brother over 44 times, killing him.”
She urged lawmakers to limit the circumstances in which law enforcement can legally use lethal force.
“Either you want to protect the citizens and we all live peacefully, or you want to continue to condone these types of acts with excessive use of force — people getting killed,” Shand said. “Over 44 shots? What, the first two shots didn’t count? So you have to keep going? It does not matter what the situation is. That is excessive.”
Creating statewide use-of-force rules was one of seven legislative proposals the committee considered Tuesday.
Another proposal would create a database of police officers who are accused of misconduct. Such a database might have saved Brandon Clark, who was shot in 2007 by an off-duty police officer while delivering furniture to the officer’s home.
“The officer who killed him had a significant history of complaints having been filed against him, documented mental health issues, and prior civil verdicts against him for police brutality,” said Brandon’s mother, Marilyn Clark, at Tuesday’s hearing. “Yet he was still on the force, fully equipped with a badge and a gun.”