Maryland Officer Fatally Shoots Man While Enforcing Order to Seize Firearms

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
November 10, 2018US News
Maryland Officer Fatally Shoots Man While Enforcing Order to Seize Firearms
Police tape. (Tony Webster/Flickr)

A 61-year-old man was fatally shot by a police officer trying to enforce a new Red Flag law in Glen Burnie, Maryland, on Nov. 5.

Anne Arundel County Police confirmed the incident happened at 103 Linwood Avenue at 5:17 a.m. The man who was killed has been identified as Gary J. Willis, who lived at the address.

According to the police, officers went to the residence to serve an Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO), according to the state’s new law, which took effect on Oct. 1. The law allows the court to issue a civil order that temporarily requires a person who “poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to self or others” to surrender firearms to law enforcement.

Willis, who was the subject of the ERPO, answered the door holding a gun, according to police. He then placed the gun next to the door.

When officers tried to serve the order, Willis became irate, opened the door to the residence, and grabbed the gun.

He then fired the gun after an officer attempted to take the gun away from him. A second officer fired their service weapon and struck Willis.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. No other person was injured in the incident.

The Homicide Unit responded, and Willis was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy.

It’s unclear who alerted the police about Willis. The incident is still under active investigation.

The Maryland Red Flag Law was passed in April 2018 in the Maryland House and Senate. Governor Larry Hogan signed it into law on April 24, according to legislation records from the General Assembly of Maryland.

Anne Arundel County Police only had a total of nine Red Flag calls at the time of this incident, WJZ-TV reported.

According to the District Court of Maryland, “If a law enforcement officer serves the respondent personally with the Extreme Risk Protective Order, the respondent must immediately surrender all firearms to the officer.”

A spouse, cohabitant, law enforcement officer, and other qualified persons can file a petition for an ERPO.

Federal ‘Red Flag’ Bill Introduced

A similar bill named the Jake Laird Act of 2018 was also introduced in the U.S. House in May 2018. Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) was the sponsor, and fifteen of Brooks’s colleagues, including nine Republicans and six Democrats, cosponsored the bill.

The House bill was named after an Indianapolis police officer who was killed in 2004 by a man who struggled with mental illness.

According to a press release from Brooks back in May, Indiana’s own Jake Laird Act allows law enforcement to seize guns from people who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others. A court then holds a hearing to determine whether the person is dangerous within 21 days.

The Indiana law has been used more than 600 times in Indianapolis since it went into effect in 2005, Brooks stated.

The House Judiciary Committee referred the federal bill to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations in June.

Nine states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, had adopted Red Flag laws when the House bill was introduced, cosponsor Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said in a press release supporting the bill in May.

“Giving law enforcement a tool to proactively remove firearms from the hands of a potentially dangerous individual, when combined with due process protections, makes sense,” Coffman said.

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