A high-ranking Baltimore cop shot a man after the man pulled a pink container of lip balm out of his pocket – making him fear for his life – before turning to the man’s brother and threatening to shoot him too.
“I got a bullet for you too,” Baltimore Police Major Byron Conaway told the man’s brother while standing over the man he had just shot.
Neither man was armed.
The incident took place Monday as John Rau was standing on a sidewalk with friends and family and was confronted by Conoway, who demanded to know what he had in his pocket.
“He said, ‘What do you got in your pocket?’ My brother clearly stated ‘Officer I only have a Chapstick, I only have a Chapstick.’” Birmingham recounts.
In fact Rau was unarmed that night, but witnesses say he was shot by the officer as he pulled his hand out of his pocket holding a small Chapstick.
“He missed my brother’s artery by so much over that,” said Birmingham. “There’s no way you can mistake this for a weapon.”
Conoway, a 16-year veteran of the department, was sued by a citizen for police abuse, resulting in the department paying a man $67,500, according to the Baltimore Sun.
He also received a departmental award for saving a woman in 2009.
Conaway was involved in a departmental shooting in 2009 when he was still an officer. A woman slipped him a note that said she was in danger. Conaway saw the man who had been in a car with her reach for a handgun, and shot him. The man survived and in August 2010 was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a handgun.
As of now, he is on paid administrative leave as police investigate the incident. Police have not said much about the shooting other than blaming Rau for not showing Conoway his hands.
But he obviously did not have a reasonable suspicion that he was committing a crime or else that would have been mentioned by now.