- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 7, 2017

BALTIMORE (AP) - A Baltimore police officer fatally shot a man who jumped out of a car and ran from the officer while armed with a handgun, officials said Tuesday.

The incident began about 3 p.m. near Union Square, in a zone that has been identified by the department as a high-crime area, department spokesman T.J. Smith said at a Tuesday news conference.

Smith said two officers on patrol followed a car that was “operating erratically” when a man jumped out of the car and ran away. One officer got out of the patrol vehicle and ran after him.

During the chase, the officer and the suspect came face to face and the officer saw a gun in the suspect’s hand, Smith said. He said the officer shot the suspect, who died at Shock Trauma.

Smith said detectives recovered a handgun at the scene. No officers or civilians were hurt.

At the time, officers were wearing tactical vests that identified them as police, as well as body-worn cameras. Smith said the officer who fired at the suspect had his body camera activated.

Smith didn’t identify the suspect Tuesday, but said the 18-year-old man had been arrested three times in the past month: once for a drug offense, once for a gun offense and a third time on both gun- and drug-related charges.

“He just got out of jail yesterday on felony gun and drug charges,” Smith said. “That’s really despicable, because it’s putting our officers and our citizens in harm’s way, seeing these people continuously possess these firearms and walk these streets and want to inflict harm on people.”

Smith said the suspect did not fire his weapon, but said the officer feared for his life.

It was the first police-involved shooting of 2017, and since the city and the U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement on a proposed consent decree to reform the police department.

The consent decree, filed in federal court in Baltimore, discourages the arrests of citizens for quality of life offenses. It requires a supervisor to sign off on any request to take someone into custody for a minor infraction, and mandates basic training for making stops and searches.

In addition, it commands officers to use de-escalation techniques, thoroughly investigate sexual assault claims and send specially trained units to distress calls involving people with mental illness. The consent decree also makes clear that an individual’s presence in a high-crime area isn’t enough to justify arrest.

Roy Daley, 30, said he saw part of the chase. Daley said he didn’t hear police give verbal commands, but saw one officer chase after the suspect. Daley said it looked as if the police, who were in an unmarked car, were “trying to hit him with their car.” Daley said he heard about eight shots fired.

Smith could not say how many shots were fired, or where the suspect was struck on his body.

Tuesday’s shooting comes amid a particularly violent period in Baltimore: So far this year, the city has seen 40 homicides.

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