By Cassidy Jensen
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BALTIMORE — A Baltimore Police officer fired more than a dozen gunshots at anti-violence activist Tyree Moorehead from a few feet away, according to body-worn camera footage released by the department that showed the fatal Sunday afternoon shooting.
After Officer Zachary Rutherford and trainee Michael Hazel arrived at the intersection of Fulton and Lafayette avenues in West Baltimore and called for backup, Rutherford ran toward Moorehead, who was holding a large kitchen knife as he stood over a woman lying on the ground.
“Get down,” Rutherford can be heard shouting as he exits the car and approaches Moorehead with his gun drawn.
Moorehead dove on top of the woman and in a slowed-down version of the video, appeared to be pointing a knife at the woman’s face.
From a few feet away, Rutherford fired his weapon at Moorehead, as he rolled off the woman and to the right, allowing the woman to move away. Rutherford continued to shoot at Moorehead, including toward his back, as he fell to the ground and then was lying on his back several feet away.
Moorehead appeared to be loosely holding the knife in his hand while bleeding from multiple wounds.
Rutherford reloaded his gun and pointed it at Moorehead but did not fire again, ordering him repeatedly for about 30 seconds to drop the knife.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and Deputy Commissioner Brian Nadeau, who oversees the department’s Public Integrity Bureau, showed the two videos from Rutherford and a trainee’s body cameras at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Rutherford has worked for the department since March and previously served three years with the Maryland Transit Administration police. Rutherford and Hazel have both been placed on administrative duties in accordance with department policy.
“We think it is clear that this officer saved this woman’s life,” Harrison said.
Asked whether the number of shots Rutherford fired was justified, Harrison said the investigation by the Independent Investigations Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office would determine that.
Witnesses, including Moorehead’s father, Carlton Moorehead, questioned the number of shots police fired at him, as he was in close range and not running away.
“The police should not have shot him so many times,” his father said.
Demontea Madison, who also saw the shooting unfold, said the officer kept shooting at Moorehead when he was already on the ground, seemingly dying.
The officers responded to a 911 call about a woman being attacked by a man with a knife. The body-cam footage begins at 3:41 p.m. Separate video also showed officers providing medical aid to Moorehead.
The woman, who police did not identify, is a Baltimore City resident.
“It does not appear that the two are related or have any connection,” Nadeau said.
Moorehead was an anti-violence activist who spray-painted “No Shoot Zones” at scenes of shootings around the city. Moorehead’s family and friends described his behavior in the months leading up to the shooting as erratic and said he faced mental health challenges.
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