A former Baltimore City police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of a Marine outside a Baltimore nightclub was found guilty Thursday on a lesser charge.
Hours after closing arguments ended at about noon Thursday, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Edward Hargadon found Gahiji Tshamba, 37, guilty on one count of manslaughter in the shooting death of Tyrone Brown, 32.
WBAL-TV 11 News reporter Barry Simms reported from inside Courthouse East that Hargadon said in court that he does not believe Tshamba identified himself as a police officer.
The judge further stated that he felt Tshamba grossly overreacted and exacerbated the situation, saying the most aggressive action taken in the incident was by Tshamba when it was not at all necessary.
Hargadon said he believed Tshamba was afraid and believed he was in danger. Wednesday, Tshamba took the stand in his own defense, saying he had no choice but to fatally shoot a Marine outside a Mount Vernon nightclub last year.
During his half-hour of testimony, Tshamba told his account of the early-morning hours of June 5, 2010, saying Brown, an Iraq war veteran, groped Tshamba's acquaintance, Crystal Ramsey, on the butt.
Tshamba testified that Ramsey slapped Brown, who then raised his fist to hit her back. Tshamba said he was acting in self-defense in fear for his life. He said he only had one drink that night and that he identified himself as a police officer before telling Brown to get down.
Tshamba also said Brown did not comply and ran toward him with his hands out, which is when he said he pulled out his gun and said Brown attacked him, grabbed him, tried to knee him in the stomach and try to take his gun.
Tshamba said he started firing, hitting Brown "an unknown amount of times." Tshamba is charged with murder, accused of shooting Brown outside the nightclub.
Ramsey had testified Tuesday that Brown was the aggressor, saying Brown ran toward Tshamba and the officer kept trying to get away.
Testimony from previous witnesses said Tshamba did not identify himself as a police officer and that he pulled his gun much earlier.
Defense attorney James Rhodes said Tshamba felt he needed to tell his side of the story, saying most of the other witnesses had it all wrong.
"He wanted to get his version, his account of what happened," Rhodes said. "I didn't think one way or the other it was going to make or break this case, but he was persistent that he wanted to testify and let the judge know what happened."
Prosecutors pointed out Brown was shot 12 times and there was a lot of blood at the scene. They said that if Tshamba and Brown had been tangled up in a scuffle, Tshamba would surely have had blood on him. Crime scene photos taken after the incident showed Tshamba's clothes were clean and that he showed no signs of a struggle, to which the defense took issue.
"These crime scene technicians who take photographs, they photograph everywhere on the ground. If there is a small pebble that has a spot of blood on it, there would be a photograph of it," Rhodes said. "The only blood at that scene was where Mr. Brown lay after he fell."
Charles Key, a police training and policy guidelines expert who has written procedural guidelines for the Baltimore City Police Department, testified Wednesday that Tshamba handled the situation perfectly, like a training scenario.
When the prosecutor and judge asked why Tshamba couldn't have just shown his badge, Key said, given the danger of the situation, a drawn gun was warranted.
The trial lasted six days.
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