A man died overnight Monday during a standoff with Baltimore police officers after they were called to a home in Central Park Heights for a reported assault.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told reporters this morning that the man–reportedly named Kevin Mason–was discovered unresponsive by SWAT officers inside a home in the 4900 block of Pembridge Avenue, several blocks south of the Pimlico Race Course. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police had said in an early morning advisory that the incident was an “officer involved shooting.”
Harrison said officers had responded to the house around 11:40 p.m. Sunday night for an assault reported by a woman, and encountered the man outside near the front door. Upon the officers’ arrival, they “had information to believe the suspect had a gun,” and “the suspect repeatedly threatened to kill the officers if they came any closer,” Harrison said. Police believe the man lived there, he said.
There was a woman inside at the time. The man came back outside shortly after midnight. One of the officers then shot at him, leading him to head back inside, which spurred police to initiate a “barricade situation” involving SWAT and hostage negotiation teams.
Several hours later, after hostage negotiators had spoken with the woman, she left and SWAT officers entered the house. While Harrison said she told police the man was sleeping, they found him dead.
It’s unclear if Mason was killed by police gunfire. Harrison said he reviewed footage from two body cameras suggesting one officer had fired a couple shots. “There’s a lot happening in the moment. It appeared to have been two [shots], but I’ll specify it appeared to have been two.”
The medical examiner will determine the cause of death, Harrison said. Other details are sparse: The scene is still being processed, the officers involved haven’t yet been interviewed and senior officials are still reviewing the body cam footage. Harrison said he couldn’t yet confirm the man had a gun.
Asked if they’ll be sharing footage of what happened overnight, Harrison said a decision will be made in the “very near future.” He used the moment to highlight a need for clearer protocols on when and why to release body cam footage. Police for years have determined case-by-case when to release those recordings, but have done so for a number of shootings by officers.
“I think that we should have a written policy on if, when and how to do that. All of those things are being considered right now, I think in the very near future we’ll have a final decision on it.”
Mason’s family told WJZ’s Mike Hellgren that he was unarmed during the ordeal. His sister today called on the police commissioner and Mayor Catherine Pugh to come meet with their family. “They killed my brother,” she said. “Where are they?”
Sister of Kevin Mason demands answers from Baltimore City leaders after her brother was killed in a standoff with police near Pimlico. More on #WJZ tonight @wjz pic.twitter.com/3t9KZQBaI5
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) March 25, 2019
This story has been updated.