Photo: Eric John Sopp
The Baltimore County Police Department released on Thursday police scanner transmission, the 911 tape and body worn camera footage involving the November police-involved shooting death of Hereford Zone man, Eric John Sopp.
After Sopp, 48, left his Parkton home intoxicated on November 26, his mother, Catherine Sopp, called police stating that her son had threatened her, was suicidal and had threatened to stab himself with an ice pick. According the 911 tape, his mother stated that he put the weapon back in a drawer before he left.
Officers first responded to the Sopp’s residence on Pheasant Wood Court in Parkton, and then spotted him on Mt. Carmel Road, following him onto Interstate 83 South.
Within minutes, after he pulled over, Sopp, who was agitated, is seen and heard on the body cam footage refusing officers’ commands.
He was shot eight times after he exited his vehicle and died of his injuries.
As reported by The Gunpowder Gazette in November, police scanner audio found by this reporter the day following the incident indicated that an officer had asked the dispatcher if Sopp had any weapons.
At 9:11:10 pm, officers spotted Sopp going westbound on Mt. Carmel Rd., following him to Interstate 83 southbound. An officer heard on the police scanner stated, “What did you say the weapon was, if there was any?”
At 9:11:22 pm, police dispatch personnel responded, “He threatened to kill himself with an ice pick, but there is no indication that he actually took it with him.”
At 9:12:44, an officer indicated he was trying to stop Sopp on the right side of the Interstate 83, heading south toward Belfast Rd.
At 9:15:09, an officer can be heard saying, “I’m walking up to the car now.”
At 9:16:34, an officer shouted, “Shots fired, shots fired!” and called for a medic.
At 9:20:20, police dispatch asked, “How many shots were fired?
At 9:20:30, a male officer responded, “To be on the safe side, possibly five.”
Sopp died of his injuries at the scene. Discussion on the police scanner indicated that police officers attempted to resuscitate him and called for medics several times.
The YouTube video provided by the Baltimore County Police Department on Thursday, which contains material that may be disturbing to viewers, follows.
According to a press release sent by Catherine Sopp’s attorneys, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP, the officer who shot Sopp, who was identified previously as “Officer Page,” had his gun drawn and finger on the trigger when he approached Sopp’s car while he had “nothing in his hands.”
Sopp stepped out of his red 2004 Toyota Camry after two officers shouted for him to remain in his vehicle several times, at which point he was shot and killed.
Attorneys noted that Catherine Sopp, “anguished by her son’s unnecessary death,” stated, “I never imagined that when I called 911 to protect my son and others from him driving drunk, it would cost him his life. There was no reason for the officer to shoot and kill him.”
Attorney Chelsea J. Crawford, who observed the footage, said “The video shows an unnecessary use of force by the police officer. There was no excuse for this officer to shoot and kill an unarmed man.”
In a statement, Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said: “The men and women in our police department encounter uncertain situations and make split-second decisions every day. Releasing video of someone losing his life is never taken lightly. The release of today’s video is in alignment with our recently announced BWC Release Policy and the Maryland Public Information Act. The internal investigation into this incident is ongoing.”
Officer Page, a 21-year veteran of the department assigned to the Cockeysville Precinct had no prior police-involved shooting incidents. He was placed on routine administrative leave following the incident, pending the outcome of an internal review.
Mr. Sopp was a Hereford High School graduate.
This story will be updated.