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Md. shootout suspect’s pretrial release displeases police

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ramad Speight had heard "harassing" voices for the past 10 years.

But now, given his prescribed anti-psychotic medication and the condition of his arm — paralyzed after he was shot during a shootout with Montgomery County police officers — he's not a current danger to the public, wrote Mr. Speight's public defender in a motion to have him released from jail pending his upcoming trial regarding the shootout.

A D.C. Superior Court judge agreed, granting Mr. Speight pretrial release last week, a decision that doesn't sit well with Montgomery County police.

Mr. Speight was arrested after a bizarre incident in March during which he was critically injured and a police officer was shot in the hand. Last month, he was indicted on 11 counts, including assault with intent to kill while armed and assault on a police officer.

"This man is clearly demonstrated to be a threat to people in the community, whether they are law enforcement officers or residents," county police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks said. "We are disappointed with the judge's decision to release him back into the community."

According to charging documents filed in the case, Mr. Speight called police to his mother's home on Eastern Avenue — in the District but so close to the city's border with Montgomery County that county police responded first — after he fired a gun several times outdoors. The documents said he believed people across the street were bothering him. When county police arrived at the home, Mr. Speight approached the officers, stating "Games over, boys," and fired a gun at them. Three officers fired back, striking Mr. Speight three times in the chest. During the shootout, one of the officer was also struck in the hand.

The officer who was shot has since completed rehabilitation and has returned to work, Capt. Starks said.

Mr. Speight's injuries from the shootout left his right arm paralyzed, "a fact that certainly reduces his capacity to injure someone in the community," his public defender, Michael Satin, wrote in motions to D.C. Superior Court Judge Florence Pan. Additionally, Mr. Speight was suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness at the time of the shooting and is now receiving treatment, Mr. Satin wrote. Citing his dedication to recovering and moving forward from the incident, Mr. Satin noted how Mr. Speight completed his University of the District of Columbia coursework while in jail and has since received his degree.

Court records indicate Mr. Speight was released from jail July 16 under high intensity supervision that requires home confinement except for medical, court and school related matters.

Prosecutors argued against his release, stating there was no evidence that the anti-psychotic medication Mr. Speight began taking in June could keep his mental illness was under control. They also argued that there was no guarantee Mr. Speight would continue to comply with treatment once he was out of jail and back in his mother's home, the same location where the March shootout occurred.

His mother, Ramona Edelin, the executive director of the D.C. Association of Public Chartered Schools, "was home on the night of the offense, and she saw the defendant walk out the front door with a loaded handgun," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison Barlotta. She also previously made an appointment for her son to see a psychologist but was unable to get him to go.

"This history suggests that releasing the defendant to the custody of his mother will not be sufficient to ensure that the defendant complies with requirements for his mental health treatment, or to ensure the safety of the community," Ms. Barlotta wrote.

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