OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — An unarmed black man was fatally shot Thursday by officers who thought he had a weapon when they were called to a home from which he was barred by protective order, police said.
Spencer Lee McCain, 41, was shot about 1 a.m. at the condominium in Owings Mills while a woman who said he threatened to beat her were there with her two young children, Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson said at a news conference.
Three officers were on the scene, and all fired as McCain was in a “defensive position,” Johnson said. He said the officers thought he had a weapon, but none was found.
Two of the officers are white, and one is black, police said. All are on administrative leave.
Police said the incident began when one of the children in the home called his grandmother, who called 911 and asked police to go there.
An officer who arrived heard screams and called for backup, Johnson said. He said 19 casings were found at the scene, but it wasn’t clear how many times McCain was hit.
Police said the woman had head injuries, cuts, bruises and swelling. Johnson said she told detectives that McCain said to her, “You’re going to get the beating you deserve.”
Sixteen to 20 domestic violence calls had been made to that home address since 2012, police spokesman Cpl. John Wachter said.
Keith Lewis is the next-door neighbor in condo building, where he has lived for five years. He said McCain would say hi but not engage in further conversation. He described the woman and the children as quiet.
Lewis said he’d heard yelling and screaming from the home several times.
Lewis described Thursday morning’s incident: “They woke me up at about 12:45. Something hit the wall. I woke up. I heard yelling. The babies were crying. It sounded like begging and pleading, ‘Don’t do this. Why are you doing this? Stop.’ Five to 10 minutes later, I saw cruisers. I saw the officers pull up out front. It quieted down, and I drifted back to sleep. Then I heard her yelling again. I heard the door get booted, and then all hell broke loose. I heard probably 10 shots.”
Lewis said he believed McCain had moved out of the home in the past, but he saw McCain there again starting around the first of the year.
According to 2013 census figures, 27.5 percent of Baltimore County’s population is black and 64.1 percent is white. The police chief and county executive are white.
As of February, black people made up less than 13 percent of the county’s 1,868-member police force.