Society

Baltimore Cop Shoots Unarmed Man Carrying Chapstick

| by Michael Allen
John RauJohn Rau

Baltimore Police are investigating why a member of their department, Major Byron Conaway, shot John Rau, an unarmed man carrying Chapstick, on Sept. 28.

“He said, ‘What have you got in your pocket?’" Rau's brother Ronald Birmingham told CBS Baltimore. "My brother clearly stated, ‘Sir, officer I only have a Chapstick, I only have a Chapstick.’”

Witnesses, including Birmingham, claim that Conaway demanded that Rau show his hands, but when Rau pulled the Chapstick out of his pocket, Conaway shot him.

Birmingham said that he tried to help his brother, who was bleeding from the gunshot, but Conaway would not allow it.

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“The officer clearly stated to me, ‘I got a bullet for you too,’” Birmingham recalled. “And I said, ‘My brother’s bleeding,' and he said, ‘Back up,’ he kept pointing the gun, he pointed the gun at my brother.”

Rau told WBAL-TV that he was walking down a street to pick up his nephew at school when an unmarked SUV pulled up near him:

All the guy said was, "What's your name, sir?" And I was like, "For what?" And then he jumped out of the car with his gun and told me to put my hands up. "What you got in your hand?"

I had a cigarette in one hand, and I just put my hand in my pocket, because I was just putting Chapstick on, and I said 10 times, "It's Chapstick, only Chapstick, officer."

Rau recalled that when he began to walk behind the SUV, Conaway fired a gun at him, striking him in the leg.

Rau plans to file a lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department, which is investigating its officer's shooting with its own special investigations response team.

Baltimore Director T.J. Smith said that the department was still piecing together information. But Conaway has up to ten days to give his side of the story per a controversial Maryland law that protects law enforcement, which some Maryland lawmakers and civil rights advocates want changed.

“There should be no reason why they should have 10 days to get their story together,” Tre Murphy, of the Baltimore United for Change Coalition, told The New York Times in April. “They are not being held accountable, and frankly, we need to do something about it.”

Sources: CBS Baltimore, WBAL-TV, The New York Times / Photo Credit: CBS Baltimore Screenshot