Baltimore Police released body-worn camera footage from last Thursday’s police shooting in Shipley Hill that shows an officer shot a 17-year-old from behind as he was running away with a gun.
The teen’s mother said his name is Mekhi Franklin.
In a video made public Tuesday, the teen can be seen turning a corner onto Catherine Street while carrying a gun in his right hand. Seconds after the teen turned his head back, the officer — identified by police as Detective Cedric Elleby — fired four shots from behind as the teen was still running away.
Elleby, who has been with the department since June 2019, has been assigned to administrative duties, per department protocol, said Deputy Commissioner Brian Nadeau, head of the department’s Public Integrity Bureau.
The shooting is being investigated by the department’s Special Investigations Response Team. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Elleby has not yet been interviewed and the investigation will be “thorough, transparent and extensive.”
“We understand the high level of scrutiny that results in any use of force by our officers or by any law enforcement,” he said. “We do not take that scrutiny lightly.”
Before the foot pursuit began, Elleby was sitting on a stoop beside Franklin, the footage shows. As Franklin walked away slowly with another person, Elleby got up to follow them. After they stopped, Elleby told Franklin to “come here,” and appeared to make an attempt to grab him.
Franklin started to run. He ran across a grassy area, down several alleys, onto Frederick Avenue and up Catherine Street. In an edited version of the video, police placed circles around the moment they say the teen reached into his waistband for a gun and held it out to the side.
“Stop, stop, stop,” Elleby can be heard shouting. “Put the gun down, put the gun down” he said as Franklin continued to run. He then fired just after they turned onto Catherine Street.
Franklin fell to the ground, while on object from his hand fell on the ground near him. Police said they recovered a 9mm handgun with an extended magazine that held four rounds.
Soon, people begin to crowd around Franklin, shouting loudly at Elleby and another officer, who was putting bandages on the teen’s wounds.
“Back up!” Elleby can be heard ordering those gathered. “Back up!”
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Elleby fired four shots, but only one struck Franklin. He could not confirm whether the shot had entered the teen through his back, as he said police don’t yet have the medical examiner’s report “to confirm exactly where the entry wound was.”
Footage shows one gunshot wound on Franklin’s side, and one wound on his back.
Officers also recovered marijuana from the teen’s backpack. The gun had been stolen in 2021, police said.
Elleby pursued Franklin because he noticed a bulge near his waistband, Nadeau said. Police do not yet know when he first noticed the bulge, they said, because investigators have not yet interviewed Elleby.
Elleby is a member of one of the department’s District Action Teams, plainclothes units tasked with “proactive” policing — looking for armed people, making car stops and, when necessary, getting into foot chases.
Harrison told reporters he could not comment on whether the shooting followed department protocol, citing the ongoing investigation.
“That’s what the investigation should produce, a finding to determine that,” he said. “It would be not just irregular, but unethical for me to render an opinion before the investigation produces its finding.”
Harrison did praise the officer for getting out of his car and talking to people in the community, and said it exhibited a level of “professionalism.”
Harrison said the department has filed an affidavit with possible charges against Franklin, but the decision ultimately rests with prosecutors.
A spokesperson for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office said the office cannot comment on the investigation, but is “aware of the charges filed with the Court Commissioner.”
“Our office will review the charges and decide how to proceed,” the spokesperson said.
Franklin’s mother, Kieria Franklin, said police told her last week her son was being detained, but did not tell her what he was charged with or if he was charged. They would not let her see her son without a police officer present.
Franklin was initially listed in critical condition and was in surgery for five hours, his mother said. His spleen and left kidney were removed, as was a piece of his liver. His left lung was completely collapsed and doctors had to repair it, she said.
In its use of force policy, BPD characterizes fleeing as “active resistance.” When a person is fleeing, it says that deadly force can be used in certain necessary situations, such as if a person is committing a felony or would pose a threat to others if they escaped.
Christopher Mercado, an adjunct assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired New York Police Department lieutenant, reviewed the footage Tuesday and said the officer’s use of force appears to have been justified.
Someone running with a gun presents an immediate public safety threat, Mercado said. In the moment the teen looked back, Elleby could have believed the teen was prepared to turn and fire, he said, and felt his safety was threatened.
“I don’t see anything at this point that rises to the level of either misuse of force or misconduct,” Mercado said.
A friend of Franklin’s, who would not provide his full name but said his nickname is Fattz, told The Banner Elleby had made regular appearances in the neighborhood for weeks before the shooting, harassing people and calling them names. Elleby once drove up to where Fattz was standing, called him “cheeseburger,” and told him he needed to lose weight, he said.
One day before the shooting, Franklin’s best friend, who asked to be called “Jaden,” said Elleby had harassed others, then came to where he was and tried to find out his name and look in his pockets.
At the press briefing, Harrison said police haven’t received any prior complaints about Elleby.
In the last 28 days, there have been more than 150 calls for service in the area, including calls for burglary, assault and narcotics, as well as three for an armed person, Harrison said.