Antonio Janifer said he does not know what happened the night he shot a Baltimore Police officer three times at point-blank range.
Janifer said he was trying to find his way after being released from prison in 2019. He said he found employment but could not hold down a job. And he said he had been smoking synthetic cannabinoids, known as K2 or spice.
“I was smoking. I was getting high,” said Janifer, who apologized and asked for leniency as he stood in a yellow jumpsuit and handcuffs in the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse. “My life was spiraling out of control.”
On May 26, 2020, Janifer shot Officer Joshua Jackson on Light Street in Federal Hill after a pursuit. Jackson was taken to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center and survived because he had been wearing a bulletproof vest with an extra plate.
Next, Janifer forced his way into a home on Patapsco Street at gunpoint and demanded a car. He then shot at a man who was in his car on North Charles Street, carjacked another man on the same block and fled to Washington, D.C.
Police arrested him one week later in Prince George’s County.
Stating that he went on a “one-man crime spree,” Baltimore Circuit Judge Cynthia H. Jones on Friday ordered Janifer, 31, of Walbrook, on charges of attempted first-degree murder and other offenses, to serve two consecutive life sentences — plus 213 years in prison.
Jones noted that the only reason that more people were not outside was due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Janifer, she said, could have reached out for drug treatment and mental health counseling. She said she heard him, but could not ignore what happened.
Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Gracey described the facts of the case as appalling and argued for the maximum sentence: two consecutive life sentences plus 213 years in prison.
Janifer, he said, had prior convictions from 2012 for first-degree assault and use of a handgun during the commission of a crime of violence for shooting two people in Prince George’s County. He had been out of prison for less than one year and on probation when he committed the new crimes, Gracey said.
Gracey played body camera and dashcam video of the shootings in court.
“The actions of Mr. Janifer that night warrant that level of punishment,” Gracey said. “There’s nothing we can do to protect society from Mr. Janifer.”
Brian Winfield was planning to get food and drive home that night when Janifer shot at him. The bullet lodged into his vehicle.
Winfield said he tries to treat people with respect. His life, he said, is no longer comfortable.
“I feel like the quality of life in Baltimore is gone,” Winfield said. “It doesn’t exist anymore.”
Winfield said he did not hold any ill will toward Janifer, adding that he feels for people who are incarcerated. At the same time, Winfield said, he believed that people need to be held accountable for their actions and decisions.
Janifer’s attorney, David Shapiro, asked the judge to impose a punishment below the sentencing guidelines, which started at 88 years in prison.
Shapiro said his client was experiencing mental health issues and not taking his medication. That’s in addition to using drugs, which made him extremely paranoid, Shapiro said.
Jackson sat in the gallery of the courtroom but did not make a statement. He joined the Baltimore Police Department in 2015 and received national recognition for moonlighting as “Saint, the Rapping Cop.”