Bowleys Quarters, MD – The family of a knife-wielding man who was fatally shot when he charged police in 2015 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Baltimore County Police Department (video below).
“Some people would call this murder…and some would call it an execution. What I simply call it is, wrong,” the family’s attorney, Kenneth Ravenell told WBFF.
The fatal altercation occurred on Dec. 14, 2015, after 52-year-old Jeffrey Evans’ girlfriend called 911 to report that Evans had consumed a large number of pills and was suicidal.
Baltimore County police responded to Evans’ home and were able to establish a dialogue with him, but he repeatedly rebuffed their requests to get him to go to the hospital, the Baltimore Sun reported.
During the encounter, Evans flopped down on the couch, then later went into the kitchen and downed a beer.
Additional officers tried to assist, but Evans ultimately refused to go to the hospital for a mental health evaluation and became increasingly agitated.
At least two officers deployed their Tasers during the encounter, initiating a silent video-recording device inside one of the less-lethal devices, WBAL reported.
Unaffected by the jolt, Evans grabbed a knife and what appeared to be a pair of scissors from a drawer and squared off with police, the video showed.
The irate man flailed his arms wildly and appeared to be yelling at the officers.
He then used both hands to grab for his waist in a motion that appeared to simulate pulling back his shirt to draw a concealed firearm, except there was no gun there.
Officers opened fire in response to his motion.
Evans was hit six times and died of his gunshot wounds.
Two months later, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney determined that the officers were justified in using deadly force against the knife-wielding man.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Baltimore County Police Corporal John Wachter told WBFF at the time. “Obviously, we would have liked to like to have been able to get the man to a medical facility so he can get some help. However, when you come at police officers with knives when other tools aren’t working, we have to do what we have to do to protect ourselves and others.”
Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Ed Norris recounted an incident when a fellow officer in New York City “unloaded his gun into somebody who was coming at him with a knife,” WBFF reported.
“[The suspect] stabbed him to death anyway,” Commissioner Norris said. “Knives are extremely dangerous in close quarters, and [Baltimore County Police] exhausted their non-lethal weapon when the tried to Taser him.”
But Evans’ family said that police killed Evans because they were angry that he would not go to the hospital for an evaluation, WBAL reported.
“Because they are upset and you don’t like what they are telling you, that’s no reason to blow their brains out,” said his sister, Sharon Tserkis. “And they blew my brother’s brains out.”
“Because they didn’t like what they were hearing, [that] gives them the right to be angry enough to blow him away?” she asked.
Ravenell argued that Evans had a right to refuse treatment.
“This man just wanted to be left alone and it was his absolute right to refuse to go to the hospital,” Ravenell told the Baltimore Sun. “If we’re there to try to save someone, we don’t kill them.”
The family’s wrongful death lawsuit alleged that Evans never moved towards the officers during the encounter and therefore presented no risk to them, WBAL reported.
“I don’t think murder is too strong a word,” Ravenell asserted. “I’m disappointed these officers were not prosecuted. Anyone watching that video would have to say that there was no basis to shoot this man.”
You can watch footage of the officers’ encounter with Evans in the video below: