Baltimore, MD – Bodycam footage captured the moment when a community “anti-violence activist” who was pinning a woman to the ground and holding a large butcher knife inches from her face was fatally shot by police on Sunday (video below).
“We think it is clear that this officer saved this woman’s life,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said of the harrowing ordeal, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Brian Nadeau said investigators do not believe the woman knew her attacker.
“It does not appear that the two are related or have any connection,” Deputy Commissioner Nadeau told The Baltimore Sun.
The unnamed female victim said she was out running errands at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 6, when she was attacked by a man in the 1800-block of West Lafayette Street, WBFF reported.
Baltimore Police Department (BPD) Officer Zachary Rutherford and trainee Officer Michael Hazel were out on patrol when they were alerted about a 911 call regarding a man with a knife attacking a woman, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Multiple witnesses said they had seen the suspect walking around the area with knives and threatening random people prior to police being notified, WMAR reported.
Bodycam footage showed the officers pulling up to the scene and immediately requesting backup before they’d even pulled the patrol car to a stop.
Officer Rutherford drew his duty pistol as he quickly exited his patrol car and began running towards a small group of people across the street.
Bodycam footage showed the suspect, later identified as 46-year-old Tyree Moorehead, standing over a woman who was cowering below him down on the pavement.
Moorehead had a large butcher knife in his hand.
“Get down!” the officers yelled as the armed suspect suddenly got on top of the woman and brought the knife just inches away from her head.
That’s when Officer Rutherford opened fire on the suspect, hitting him multiple times as he rolled off of the victim and she managed to break free, the video showed.
Moorehead continued gripping the knife as he lay bleeding in the street, eventually dropping it after repeated commands from police.
Officers immediately rendered aid to the suspect, but he did not survive.
The female victim was not injured during the incident, WBFF reported.
Officer Rutherford and trainee Officer Hazel have both been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the officer-involved shooting investigation.
Commissioner Harrison said he believes it is “clear” that Officer Rutherford saved the victim’s life, but he noted that the Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s Independent Investigations Division will ultimately decide whether the officer’s use of force was justified, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Officer Rutherford served three years with the Maryland Transit Administration Police Department prior to joining the BPD in March.
Moorehead was a former gang member who became well-known in recent years for the “No Shoot Zone” murals he painted at shooting scenes around the city, The Baltimore Sun reported.
He touted himself as an anti-violence activist, according to the paper.
Moorehead’s family said he suffered from mental health issues and that his behavior had become more erratic in recent months, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The suspect’s father, Carlton Moorehead, said the officer’s use of force was excessive and that his son wasn’t even running away at the time of the incident.
“The police should not have shot him so many times,” Carlton Moorehead declared.
“I think it was overkill and it shouldn’t have went that far,” he told WMAR. “If they carry all situations like that with people with mental problems, we got too many people in this city with mental problems, you gone kill all of them.”
Moorehead’s cousin, Carlie McCaskill, blamed police for making his cousin feel paranoid, WBAL reported.
“I guess by them harassing him and stuff like that it just triggered something, and he just stopped taking his medication because he was going through something with that,” McCaskill claimed.
“We all go through things. We all suffer. That’s why we all (are) here in the world to help each one help one,” he said. “And it just seems like it’s not enough being done. Everybody talks about it, but when you go to get help you get turned away.”
McCaskill said the officer’s use of force was excessive and that Baltimore police need more training to help them deal with people who are struggling with mental health issues, WBAL reported.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Criminal Justice and Pubic Safety Chair Nicole Chang said the group will conduct its own investigation into the shooting, WMAR reported.
“The life of a community member was lost on Sunday and that is never a situation to be taken lightly,” Chang said in a statement. “This incident is an opportunity for us to have an open and honest conversation in our community, with BPD and with City leadership about how we can provide the best possible support for loved ones and community members that may be experiencing a mental health crisis.”
The NAACP of Baltimore City said they believe it was “necessary” for police to intervene during the attack, but questioned the use of force, WBFF reported.
“Fourteen shots were discharged from the officer’s weapon. Is that use of force justified or is that a case of excessive force?” the group asked.
McCaskill said he hopes his cousin is remembered for the positive things he did, WBAL reported.
“I want his legacy to be that Tyree Moorehead tried to help Baltimore City. Tried to do something positive for Baltimore City. Though the same city that in our younger days, we helped destroy, he tried to help build and out back,” he said.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content: