Montgomery County

Prosecutors Won't Charge Maryland Police Officer in Fatal Shooting

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A Maryland police officer who fatally shot a man wielding a knife earlier this year will not face any charges.

The body cam worn by Montgomery County police Sgt. David Cohen shows the May 7 shooting.

The officer was responding to a 911 call from a neighbor reporting that a rock was thrown through his window by a man holding a knife.

The officer repeatedly yelled warnings to 30-year-old Finan Berhe in the White Oak parking lot of the town home complex where Berhe lived.

The officer fired five shots, hitting Berhe three times.

By agreement, Montgomery County and Howard County review each other’s police shooting investigations.

“We concluded that although incredibly tragic and unfortunate, the involved officer Sgt. David Cohen’s actions were lawful, and therefore, we will not be pursuing any charges against him,” Howard County State’s Attorney Richard Gibson said.

Prosecutors said Berhe was 14 feet away when the officer fired. They concluded the officer faced a significant threat of death or bodily injury.

The Berhe family doesn’t want to talk publicly until they meet with a lawyer. They say Berhe was a great person, a college grad with a degree in finance. They say he had a breakdown and needed help.

“They did try to pursue and try to find out whether or not there was a mental health issue in play. There’s been a lot of conversation about that,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said about the investigation. “I can tell you that his parents denied that was a fact. They were questioned; they said there was not.”

“I just wish that the police had the resources and the county maybe had the resources to send personnel to assist that have or are having a mental breakdown or problem,” said Damon Adams, a neighbor of Berhe.

“Based upon the information that was provided in the 911 call, whether or not there was enough information to highlight that, it’s easy to Monday morning quarterback it at this point, for us to say this could have been one of those cases,” Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said.

This shooting investigation will be used in police training as police practices are reimagined.

Cohen will be taken off administrative leave and return to active duty.

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