Police shooting suspect is denied bail by judge

Crime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemCrimeFamilyHomicideScott WilliamsHealth

Baltimore authorities and the lawyer representing a man accused of shooting four police officers during a drug raid squared off in court yesterday, offering far different accounts of what happened leading to the shootout.

After a half-hour hearing, Baltimore District Judge Gale E. Rasin sided with prosecutors and ordered the suspect, Lewis Cauthorne, 26, held without bail on attempted-murder charges.

Cauthorne's lawyer, Warren A. Brown, argued unsuccessfully that his client should be released because the shooting Tuesday night was a "tragic accident" sparked by overly aggressive officers who stormed into the North Baltimore house in Cameron Village without warning.

Brown said that Cauthorne opened fire on the police, who were trying to serve search-and-seizure warrants, because he was frightened for his family.

But prosecutors countered that the officers knocked on the front door and identified themselves as police before ramming the door at the house in the 1000 block of Cameron Road and rushing through.

At a community meeting last night, Cameron Village residents said they weren't sure whether they believed the authorities or Cauthorne's family. But along with residents from surrounding communities, they vowed to keep calling the police.

"That's the only way we get things solved in the neighborhood," said Cameron Village Community Association Vice President Ethel McClain.

What was not in question was that once police entered Cauthorne's house, they were engaged in a gunbattle that left four officers injured. Cauthorne fired at least six shots from a .45-caliber handgun, police said, and the officers fired 14 rounds. Neither Cauthorne nor anyone else in the home was injured.

Officer Robert J. Adams was wounded in the arm and thigh; Officer Michael H. Smith in the leg; Officer James S. Guzie in the shin; and Officer Steven Hanson in the hand. All but Guzie have been released from the hospital.

Police recovered six small bags of marijuana, an ounce of suspected cocaine and a scale in the house, police said.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said yesterday that the gun recovered had been stolen from a Howard County firefighter in 1998.

"I'm not going to apologize for four of my cops being shot," Norris said during a news conference at police headquarters. "We believe more was going on at that house. We found an ounce of white powder, marijuana and a stolen gun."

Cauthorne's girlfriend, Janie Battle, said yesterday during a news conference at Brown's office that she never heard the officers identify themselves. She and Cauthorne's mother were sitting on a couch near the front door when they heard a loud pounding sound. They leapt from the couch and began screaming that burglars were trying to get inside, Battle said.

"I was yelling and screaming," said Battle, 26, who is also the mother of Cauthorne's 3-year-old daughter. "I feel violated and traumatized. This entire situation could have been [avoided] if they had just said, 'Police, police, we have a warrant.'"

Cauthorne told detectives that he was in the basement when he heard noises and yelling upstairs, police said. He rushed up the steps, took out a handgun and pointed it around a wall, according to police and Brown.

After opening fire and emptying the gun, Cauthorne walked out the back door of his house where he was arrested, police said.

Police have said they learned of drug activity in Cauthorne's house from a confidential informant and at least one neighborhood complaint.

At last night's hastily planned community meeting, about a dozen residents of Cameron Village, about 40 residents of surrounding communities and assorted politicians questioned police Maj. Scott Williams, who oversees the city's Northern District. They asked him what they should do if they suspect drug activity, who can help them keep young men from loitering in the street and how they can get a street sign replaced.

"What you have to do is the same thing you did to get us on Cameron Road the other night," Williams said. "Let us know where your problems are."

Shirley Wells, who lives on Cameron Road, said she wants to believe the police version of what happened Tuesday night, but she just isn't sure what to think. She said she wonders what will happen if she calls the police to report drugs.

Last night she asked Williams, "Are you just going to burst into people's houses without telling them who you are?"

"That," Williams responded, "is not how it works."

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