A Sunday night traffic stop in Northwest Baltimore ended in a fatal police-involved shooting after authorities said a suspect fired a gun at an officer.
Police said the shooting happened at around 8:15 p.m. near the corner of Roslyn Avenue and Gwynns Falls Parkway in the Garwyn Oaks neighborhood. At a briefing on Sunday night, department spokesman T.J. Smith told reporters the suspect was carrying a semi-automatic handgun and a replica gun, and pointed the real gun at a police officer who then shot him dead.
At a presser on Monday, Smith identified the man as 33-year-old Billy Rucker, and revealed that he actually fired a shot at the officer who was chasing him through the neighborhood, as displayed on the officer’s body-worn camera footage.
Other footage recorded by a police helicopter showed Rucker dropped his gun’s magazine just before hopping a fence and running out onto Gwynns Falls Parkway. It was unclear whether that was intentional or on purpose.
“He probably thought that he had more ammunition on him” than the sole shot that remained in the chamber, Smith said.
The violence began with an officer pulling over Rucker in a red SUV on Westwood Avenue, several blocks southeast of where the shooting unfolded. The officer’s body camera showed he stopped Rucker for a traffic violation and asked for his license and registration. Rucker then sped away. He and a female passenger eventually pulled into an alleyway off of Allendale Road to ditch their car.
The pair began walking on Gwynns Falls Road, “trying to blend in” and apparently unaware that the department’s Foxtrot helicopter was following them overhead, Smith said on Sunday night.
The footage from the police helicopter released on Monday shows Rucker eventually taking off running and cutting through a yard. When another officer gives chase and catches up with him, Rucker hop a fence and winds up in the median on Gwynns Falls Parkway. His female companion did not run, and was taken into custody, police said.
Seconds before the shooting, the officer he can be heard yelling on body camera footage, “Get on the ground!” and later, “Get on the ground or I’m gonna shoot you!”
On Rucker’s body, police found the gun Rucker used to fire at at the officer. They also found a replica stashed in a bag.
“It’s certainly not a scenario that anyone wanted to be in this evening but again, we’re dealing with somebody with a real gun who had multiple opportunities to surrender,” Smith said on Sunday. “It’s a sad state of affairs.”
Smith said Rucker had a history of drug and gun charges. Court records show he was charged with narcotics possession and distribution offenses in 2014, but the charges were later dropped; he also served a week in jail after being convicted of marijuana possession one year earlier.
The officer who killed him is a six-and-a-half-year veteran of the department who works in the Northwest District, Smith said Monday. He’s since been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation.
The incident marked the second police-involved shooting in eight days, and the second one since Darryl De Sousa replaced Kevin Davis as police commissioner.
At around 3:15 a.m. on Jan. 20, a police officer shot a 20-year-old man in the leg after a chase downtown. CitiWatch camera footage released by the department had displayed him and two others loading up firearms near Park Avenue and Clay Street. Police arrested all three on illegal handgun charges.
This story has been updated.