Jun 11, 2001
In May, a Baltimore jury awarded over seven million dollars to the family of Eli McCoy, a 17-year-old high school student. McCoy had been shot dead by a Housing Authority cop on Thanksgiving Day, 1999. The jury concluded that Officer Kenneth Dean III had used excessive force, battered the young black man and acted with malice in killing the unarmed McCoy.
On the day McCoy was shot, his father sent him on an errand to a nearby store in Walbrook, the poor neighborhood where the family lives. He ended up cornered in the backyard of a house after trying to run away from Baltimore City cops and off-duty Housing Authority Officer Dean. These cops chased him after a woman reported that McCoy and another young man had snatched $20 from her. Several witnesses who lived in the neighborhood testified McCoy obeyed the cops' orders to put his hands up. One witness heard him say, "I don't have a weapon. I haven't done anything. What, you gonna shoot me?"
Officer Dean, standing only about 8 feet in front of McCoy, then did exactly that; a few seconds later he fired two more shots into him. McCoy died on the spot. Three neighborhood witnesses reported that one of the city police officers then cried out to another officer, "I can't believe he (Officer Dean) just did this."
The family was forced to take its own case into civil court because city prosecutors refused to bring criminal charges against Officer Dean. The Housing Authority even continued to employ him.
A jury has now decided that Dean committed murder. But others are equally responsible –and first of all, the police department officialdom, the city prosecutor and the mayor.
In refusing to indict Dean, they indicted themselves as accomplices after the fact in McCoy's murder.