Baltimore tense after false shooting report

Protesters gather and tensions rise on false report that police shot black man as they arrested him.

    Protesters gathered in Baltimore following a report that police had shot a black man as they were arresting him [Reuters]
    Protesters gathered in Baltimore following a report that police had shot a black man as they were arresting him [Reuters]

    Baltimore police have been forced to deny a media report that they shot a black man while trying to take him into custody, saying the man's firearm went off accidentally while officers were arresting him and that no one was injured.

    The incident, which followed weeks of protests over the death last month of 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray in police custody, raised suspicions within a community on edge, and drew about 100 protesters to the site of a riot a week ago.

    A senior Baltimore police officer on the scene told reporters that the man had been put into an ambulance as a precautionary measure.

    "No one was injured," the officer said. "Nowhere on his body does he have a gunshot wound."

    Apology

    Fox News, which had reported that the man had been shot while he was fleeing authorities, apologised for what it said was an inaccurate report.

    Al Jazeera's John Hendren, reporting from Baltimore, said police were in the process of pursuing an armed man, when his weapon discharged.

    "As they moved in on him he had three bullets in the chamber and one went off," Hendren said.

    "The Twittersphere went wild. There were reports that police had shot a black man in the back. It looked for a moment like Baltimore could go off again."

    Hendren said it was not known if the man was charged.

    Three days after the city's top prosecutor filed charges against six police officers for the death in custody of Freddie Gray, many activists who had participated in weeks of marches in protest over Gray's death demanded more details on the incident.

    "There is definitely a camera overlooking Penn and North. Let's see the footage," Deray McKesson, a leading voice among the anti-police activists who have staged protests in recent months, said on Twitter.

    Gray's death in police custody was the latest in a string of police killings, including incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, to trigger a wave of protests across the United States.

    A night curfew that had been imposed was lifted by Baltimore's mayor on Sunday.

    The mayor said the Maryland National Guard would begin withdrawing from the streets over the next week.

     

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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