|Officer Andrew Groman|
BALTIMORE —Police said they have charged a repeat violent offender in connection with the shooting of a city police officer during a traffic stop near Mondawmin Mall in west Baltimore on Sunday night.
Police said the officer and his partner conducted the stop at a gas station in the 2600 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway around 7:15 p.m.
The incident started Sunday night when the suspect car was initially spotted by a different officer at a nearby gas station. Police said that officer smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car and called it in.
The car was pulled over a short time later by 27-year-old Officer Andrew Groman -- a three-year veteran of the force -- and five other officers, according to police. Surveillance video showed the car was surrounded by officers.
"They did a car stop on suspicious activity, and they walked up to the car," said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
Police said the driver followed instructions, but 19-year-old Donte Jones, who was in the back seat, wouldn't get out of the car and refused to show his hands.
"One officer advised him that if he didn't comply he would be tased. At some point in time, there was the discharging of the firearm, and there was the firing of the Taser. Exactly which event happened first is still under investigation," Baltimore City police Maj. Stanley Branford said. "We do know, however, that the suspect who was the only one who fired a weapon."
Three shots were fired, striking Groman once in the abdomen, just below his bulletproof vest, police said. They do not believe any officers fired their service weapons.
Jones was chased a couple of blocks away and captured by a Baltimore City and a Coppin State police officer.
Groman's partner rushed him to Sinai Hospital, where he had surgery Sunday night. Groman's family was brought in from out of state to be by his side.
"The surgery team was down immediately, and within a few minutes he was taken up to the operating room," said Sinai Hospital's Dr. Lisa Kirkland on Sunday night. "At this point, all I can tell you is he's doing well."
Police said Groman was listed in stable condition Tuesday. He hasn't yet been able to talk to officials about the incident.
"One of our officers was for no reason attacked viciously by (the gunman)," Baltimore police Deputy Cmdr. Jerry Rodriguez said.
"We have recovered the gun," Batts said.
Groman has also been a firefighter with the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company since 2013.
Suspect due in court on other charges
City police said four people who were in the car were taken into custody, but only Jones was charged in the shooting. A city police commander said Jones is a violent repeat offender. He faces attempted murder charges in connection with Sunday's shooting, police said.
"This is a situation where had the individuals in the car complied with the officers' directions, at best, it may be a citation," Rodriguez said.
According to charging documents, Jones confessed to shooting at Groman at least twice and fleeing the scene. In court on Tuesday, Jones blurted, "I didn't make a confession." Police said the investigation is ongoing.
Jones' court records show he served time for a weapons conviction in 2013 and was on supervised probation when he was arrested on gun and drug charges in June.
"This individual is a 19-year-old member of our community who, at the age of 19, is on parole, probation and has many contacts with the police. He is a violent, repeat offender. Many of his arrests were for gun violence," Rodriguez said.
Jones, who is being held without bail, was due to be tried in court Tuesday on those drug and gun violations. He was out on $150,000 bail.
"I think this really exemplifies the risk that first responders face every day," Rodriguez said. "We will use any and all resources, and the folks of this city will know that if you come after a law enforcement officer, we will do everything we can to bring you to justice."
Batts: I wonder if this will lead to marches
Meanwhile, Batts said he hopes the shooting will get the same type of attention as the grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases that have led to protests around the country.
"I'm not caught on the irony of the timing of the situation. We've had marches nationwide over the fact that we've lost lives in police custody. I wonder if we're going to have the same marches as officers are shot, too," Batts said.
One of the activists who helped lead some of those protests in Baltimore agreed with the commissioner.
In an email to 11 News, social activist the Rev. Cortly Witherspoon said all lives matter, officer or civilian. Witherspoon also applauded the mayor, commissioner and state's attorney for standing with the officer's family, but he said he hopes they share "the same level of compassion for victims of police terror."
The mayor issued a statement Monday evening, saying, "I applaud residents across the city who have joined in peaceful demonstration to make their voices heard. The characterization that I have not stood with families grieving the lives lost to violence is not supported by any measure of fact. In the past year alone, I have personally participated in more than two-dozen town halls and community forums with residents who have suffered tremendous loss and want an end to violence of all kind. In partnership, we have reduced the numbers of excessive force lawsuits and police misconduct complaints, while increasing the number of officers disciplined for acting unlawfully. Now is the time to come together as one community and continue taking action against violence. Every life in Baltimore matters to me, and I will continue working with anyone who wants to partner in making our city a safer place."
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
25 Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.