A Maryland police officer was found not guilty of criminal charges on Thursday after he fatally shot a man accused of threatening himself others in November 2019, police said.
Baltimore County police said the decision was based on a body camera video and 911 audio in which the officer fatally shot Eric Sopp. Reports show Sopp's mother, Catherine Sopp, called the police on November 26 and told officials that her son had threatened to kill himself and maybe drive drunk.
Bodycam footage shows an officer telling Sopp to stop his car on Interstate 83 and place his hands on the dashboard, according to the Associated Press. Despite the officer telling him not to step outside the vehicle, Sopp is heard saying he is coming out. After he steps out of the car, the officer opens fire and shoots eight times.
Reports suggest the shooting was "justified" in a letter written by Baltimore County Deputy State's Attorney Robin Coffin to county police Chief Melissa Hyatt. The attorney's office declined to press charges against the officer.
Investigators did not find any weapons on Sopp's body after the shooting. Questions about likely weapons found in the vehicle or at the scene were refused to be answered by police spokeswoman Sgt Vickie Wareheim.
Catherine Sopp released a statement on Thursday saying that the fatal shooting at her son by the police was uncalled for. "I never imagined that when I called 911 to protect my son and others from him driving drunk, it would cost him his life," she said.
Texas officer charged in fatal shooting
The Baltimore police office's announcement about the fatal shooting by a police officer comes weeks after a Temple Police officer was charged with killing an unarmed civilian.
Officer Carmen DeCruz, was charged with a second-degree felony for shooting dead Michael Dean on December 2, 2019, according to a statement by the Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza early this month. DeCruz, who was put on paid administrative leave after the shooting, if convicted, could face two-to 20 years in prison. His bail was set at $500,000.
According to a police report dated December 30, DeCruz tried to stop Dean's car and had "an altercation of some sort". Investigators found DeCruz had pointed a gun at Dean and was trying to reach for Dean's keys. After DeCruz pulled back, his finger allegedly squeezed the trigger, and a bullet struck Dean's head. While first aid was administrated by responding officers, Dean was dead before paramedics arrived.