David Linthicum’s lawyers suggest motive, liken jail cell to ‘torture’

Linthicum, 24, of Cockeysville, is accused of shooting two Baltimore County Police officers and sparking a manhunt.

Published 3/30/2023 12:32 p.m. EDT, Updated 3/30/2023 4:08 p.m. EDT

A Maryland State Police trooper directs traffic as the SWAT team conducts their search of a house on Warren Rd. during a manhunt for 24-year-old Cockeysville resident David Emory Linthicum.

David Linthicum, the man accused of shooting two Baltimore County Police officers and sparking a dayslong manhunt, fired into a wall of his home in Cockeysville “as an attempt to have himself killed through something popular culture unfortunately refers to as ‘suicide by cop,’” his attorneys said.

That possible explanation for why he first opened fire was among several new details to emerge in a motion for bail that Linthicum’s attorneys, Deborah Katz Levi and James Dills, filed on March 24 in Baltimore County Circuit Court. They’re asking a judge to release their client on home detention with GPS monitoring and the ability to seek mental health treatment.

For almost two weeks after his arrest, Linthicum was kept naked in a cell with a piece of plastic for a blanket and the lights on for 24 hours per day. The conditions of his incarceration in the Baltimore County Detention Center, they said, have hardly improved.

Linthicum is now locked in a small concrete room for 23 hours per day. He has no access to recreation or educational materials. And because of time constraints, he must often choose between taking a shower or calling his loved ones, they said.

“Housing someone who was suicidal to begin with in a jail cell for twenty-three hours a day, with no access to exercise, recreation, or even reading materials, is tantamount to torture,” Levi and Dills wrote in the motion.

Levi is director of special litigation for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore. Dills is the district public defender for Baltimore County.

On Feb. 8, Linthicum’s father, John, who’s known as Whit, called 911 and expressed concerns that his son was experiencing suicidal thoughts. He led law enforcement down into the basement of their home on Powers Avenue near Sherwood Avenue.

That’s when Linthicum fired more than a dozen rounds toward him and Officer Barry Jordan, police reported, who realized outside that he’d been shot.

Next, Linthicum on Feb. 9 shot Detective Jonathan Chih on Warren Road, stole his 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 and led investigators on a chase that ended in a field near the Fallston Mall in Harford County, police reported.

The Harford County Sheriff’s Office surrounded Linthicum and took him into custody on Feb. 10.

Sign Up for Alerts
Get notified of need-to-know
info from The Banner

In the motion, Levi and Dills questioned why law enforcement did not use the mobile crisis team, which pairs a mental health clinician with a specially trained officer. Police instead “staged a heavily armed response” that included helicopters, drones and assault vehicles.

Linthicum, they said, was diagnosed with depression and previously recommended for inpatient treatment at Sheppard Pratt.

Levi and Dills asked the judge to allow their client to receive “much needed psychiatric treatment.”

“Although this request is unusual based on the severity of the charges, Mr. Linthicum asks this Honorable Court to consider that this was a call for help that went terribly wrong,” Levi and Dills said.

In an email, Detective Trae Corbin, a Baltimore County Police spokesperson, said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said he has neither seen the motion nor comments on pending cases.

Erica Palmisano, a spokesperson for Baltimore County, said in a statement that “detainees at risk of harm are put in protective custody to ensure their safety and the safety of those around them.”

“As the Baltimore County Department of Corrections continues to relax COVID-19 restrictions, officials continue to identify and introduce opportunities ensuring all inmates have additional time out of housing units and in safe, social settings,” Palmisano said.

Circuit Judge Dennis M. Robinson Jr. has not ruled on whether to grant a hearing, according to online court records. It’s unclear when Linthicum is expected back in court.

Editor’s note: This story discusses the topic of suicide. If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis or in need of mental health help, you can call 9-8-8, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.