Mayor Names Panel In Torbit Shooting Probe

Saturday, February 26, 2011 – Robert Lang and Baltimore Sun
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has named a civilian panel to investigate a shooting last month outside a city night club that killed a police officer and a 22-year old man.

Investigators say police officer opened fire on a crowd that was fighting outside the Club Select on the morning of January 9 killing Officer William Torbit and Sean Gamble.

The panel includes former Maryland Attorney General and U.S. Attorney Steve Sachs, who the Baltimore Sun reports had contributed to the mayor’s campaign. 

The panel also includes Hubert Williams, who chairs the Police Foundation, a think tank.  Williams was was also part of the panel that investigated the Los Angeles Police Department’s response to the 1992 riots there.

“I am grateful for the individuals who have agreed to join this review board to conduct a thorough and independent study of this tragic incident,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake in a news release.  “

Their findings will help us better understand what happened that night and improve training for our officers.”

There is no deadline for this panel to complete its investigation.

The police department is already conducting its own investigation.  Torbit’s family led a demonstration earlier this week to protest the lack of progress in the investigation.

Statement from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake

Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld, III announced the appointment of an independent board to review the police-involved shooting that occurred on January 9, 2011, as well as related police policies and procedures.  The incident resulted in the death of police officer William Torbit, Jr., and Mr. Sean Gamble, as well as the shooting of 3 other civilians and one police officer.  The board is comprised of national law enforcement experts who will review the incident and recommend changes to policies and procedures to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

“I am grateful for the individuals who have agreed to join this review board to conduct a thorough and independent study of this tragic incident,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake.  “Their findings will help us better understand what happened that night and improve training for our officers.”

Members of the Independent Review Board:

·         Mr. Darrel Stephens is on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in the Division of Public Safety Leadership and Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. He started his law enforcement career in the Kansas City, MO Police Department where he served as an officer, sergeant, and unit commander.  He served as the Police Chief for Lawrence, KS, Largo, FL, Newport News, VA, St. Petersburg, FL, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC.  As Chief of Police, he has been nationally recognized for his contributions to problem oriented police strategies.  Stephens served as the Executive Director of the Washington, DC based Police Executive Research Forum from 1986 – 1992 and in 2006, he also served as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

  • Mr. Hubert Williams is the President of the Police Foundation, which assists police departments to increase community satisfaction by implementing community policing strategies.  Mr. Williams served as Police Director for the Newark, NJ Police Department, and was the youngest executive of a police department in the United States.  In 1992, he was appointed by the Los Angeles Police Department to evaluate the police response to civil disorder in that city. 


  • Mr. James K. “CHIPS” Stewart is a Senior Fellow at CNA’s Institute for Public Research which provides research and analysis expertise on safety and security issues.  Mr. Stewart served in the Oakland, CA Police Department, retiring as Commander of Criminal Investigations.  After retirement, he served as the Director of the National Institute of Justice for two Presidents.  Mr. Stewart has participated in review boards and law enforcement analyses that have led to changes in policies, procedures and operations.  He serves as an advisor to George Mason University, participates in National Academy of Science panels relating to Crime and Justice and provides services to the Department of Justice and its agencies. 


  • Mr. Stephen H. Sachs was a two-term Maryland Attorney General.  He is also a former U.S. Attorney for Maryland. After leaving public life, he joined Wilmer Cutler Pickering specializing in criminal and civil litigation.  In retirement, he collaborates with the Public Justice Center in pro bono on behalf of disadvantaged citizens. 


  • Dr. Cynthia Lum is a former Detective in the Baltimore City Police Department.  She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University, as well as Deputy Director of George Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. Before joining the faculty at George Mason, Dr. Lum was an Instructional Professor for the U.S. State Department’s International Law Enforcement Academy.


“It is important for the Baltimore Police Department, the City of Baltimore and everyone affected by the incident to have an independent board review the investigation, policies and procedures.” said Commissioner Bealefeld.   “And, I am thankful that these national experts have agreed to serve as part of this Board and I look forward to working with them.” 

The Board will be asked to accomplish the following tasks:

·         Review the Baltimore Police Department’s investigation of the incident and its findings.

·         Conduct a comprehensive review of the circumstances surrounding the events of January 9, 2011.

·         Review the use of lethal force by officers of the Baltimore Police Department and determine whether or not the use of force was consistent with existing law and departmental policy.

·         Review existing departmental policies and procedures and identify any policy violations that occurred.

·         Identify best practices to improve BPD’s policies related to incident response and incident management.  This assessment shall include, but not be limited to, the following issues:

o   Identification of plain clothes officers

o   Crowd control techniques in an urban setting

o   Deployment and incident command in emergencies

o   Judgmental shooting training

·         Review Baltimore Police Department training practices related to use of force, crowd control and firearms training and make recommendations for improvement.

The Review Board will not begin its work until the formal police investigation is complete.  The Board will issue a written report to Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Commissioner Bealefeld at the conclusion of its review that summarizes the steps it undertook to conduct the review, its findings and recommendations.

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