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Family of man killed by Maryland officer sues officer, dept.

October 28, 2020 GMT

BALTIMORE (AP) — The family of a man who was fatally shot by a police officer in Maryland last year has filed a federal lawsuit against the officer and his police department.

Eric Sopp’s family alleges in the lawsuit that the officer who shot Sopp, 48, last November escalated the encounter “with a suicidal and depressed man” and barked conflicting commands before he ultimately shot him “without justification,” The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday.

The lawsuit also claims officers with the Baltimore County Police Department “routinely use excessive and deadly force” during encounters with people who are dealing with a mental crisis.

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The shooting happened after Sopp’s mother, Catherine Sopp, called police to report that her son had been drinking and threatened to kill himself.

In body camera footage released by the department, an officer is seen telling Eric Sopp to put his car in park on Interstate 83 and place his hands on the dashboard. Sopp is then heard saying he is getting out of the car and the officer tells him not to. When Sopp gets out of the vehicle, the officer fires eight times.

The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office declined to bring criminal charges against the officer, identified in the lawsuit as Gregory Page, earlier this year. Deputy State’s Attorney Robin Coffin wrote the shooting was justified in a letter to the department’s police chief.

The police department has declined to provide comment on the lawsuit. “We do not comment on pending litigation,” Sgt. Vickie Warehime, a police spokeswoman, wrote in an email to the newspaper.