The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office has been ordered to turn over evidence including time-stamped body-worn camera video to defense attorneys for David Linthicum, a Cockeysville man who’s accused of shooting two police officers and setting off a dayslong manhunt.
Circuit Judge Dennis M. Robinson Jr. did not hold the state’s attorney’s office in contempt of court following delays and excuses for not sharing evidence that the defense requested, but the judge’s rulings on Monday settle parts of a monthslong dispute in the case.
Linthicum, 25, is charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder and related offenses. He’s accused of shooting Officer Barry Jordan on Feb. 8 at a home on Powers Avenue near Sherwood Road. Jordan had responded to a call about Linthicum being armed and experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Next, Linthicum on Feb. 9 shot Detective Jonathan Chih, stole his 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 and led law enforcement on a chase, police allege. The Harford County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 10 arrested Linthicum.
In a 14-page opinion and order, Robinson ordered prosecutors to turn over a ballistics report within three business days after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives provides it to them. He said he was not clear why the state took so long to refer the case to the agency and whether there are factors that make the investigation more time-consuming and complex.
Robinson also chided prosecutors for insisting that there was no way to provide a log showing what, if any, redactions had been made to body-camera video even though the website evidence.com could do it.
“It is not clear how the State was seemingly unaware of the ability of evidence.com to produce these reports with what seems to be a click of a button,” Robinson wrote. “The State either did not ask the right people the right questions when inquiring or otherwise did not take sufficient steps to determine the capabilities of evidence.com.”
And while the state steadfastly maintained it could not provide body-camera video that displayed the date and time, Robinson said testimony made it clear that the Baltimore County Police Department simply had to turn on a setting.
Prosecutors, he said, described the prospect of having to turn over body-camera video with this information as “doctoring” the footage.
“That is a mischaracterization. It is not doctoring anything,” Robinson said. “‘Doctoring’ means ‘to alter deceptively’ or ‘to adapt to modify for a desired end by alteration or special treatment.’”
Robinson directed assistant state’s attorneys to turn over a list of police officers who had body cameras. That’s along with body-camera video from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, stating that there was “no valid reason for further delay regarding this information.”
But Robinson denied several other requests to order prosecutors to turn over information and declined to hold the state’s attorney’s office in contempt for allegedly failing to take reasonable steps to resolve these issues, leading to unreasonable delays and unnecessary hearings.
Deborah Katz Levi, director of special litigation for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore, one of Linthicum’s attorneys, said it was remarkable that prosecutors have been providing body-camera video but were “unaware of basic functions and basic requirements that promote fairness and transparency.”
“Mr. Linthicum and every other criminal defendant deserves better,” Levi said.
“We agree with the court’s decision,” she added. “The county needs to find a way to do better.”
Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger declined to comment because the case is pending.