Video Shows Laurel Officer Shoot Unarmed Burglary Suspect

The officer, a firearms instructor, was cleared of all wrongdoing; the man he shot faces burglary charges

Newly released police body camera footage shows the moment a police officer in Prince George's County, Maryland, shot and wounded an unarmed man suspected of burglary.

An officer in Laurel shot and injured 20-year-old Rashawn Curbeam on April 10 as police investigated a reported burglary. The officer later told investigators that he accidentally shot Curbeam because he was startled.

In late November, the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The video shows at least four officers search for burglary suspects at Indus Food International Market on 4th Street. The officers find one suspect, a teenager, and use a Taser on him.

Then, they work to clear the building. An officer can be seen pulling open a back door.

Then, the officer fires a single shot.

"Are you hit?" the officer can be heard shouting at Curbeam. Then, he searches his body for a bullet wound.

The young man had been shot in the back.

Curbeam survived the shooting. His lawyer, Patrick Preller, said the bullet approached his spine. 

Preller said police were not justified in using deadly force.

"Based upon the video and given the fact that Mr. Curbeam was shot in the back, unarmed, and posing no obvious threat to the officer, we find it troubling and disturbing that there was no indictment," he said in a statement.

Curbeam was charged with burglary.

The Laurel Police Department said in a statement in April that the officer who shot Curbeam is a 17-year veteran who is a SWAT team member and firearms instructor. The department said the officer, who they did not identify, saw movement in the dark when he opened the store's back door, jumped back and his gun fired.

This video of the shooting was presented as evidence in court. In late November, a grand jury declined to indict the officer on any charges.

"The grand jury in this case declined to indict the officer for his actions. So we moved forward then and sent a letter to the Laurel police department, letting them know that based on the grand jury's actions, we would not be prosecuting this officer," Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office spokesman John Erzen said.

Laurel police said they may retrain officers and put in place new protocols. The officer who fired is on modified duty as the investigation continues.

The State's Attorney's Office said a special prosecutions unit reviews all cases of police-involved shootings.

Curbeam was scheduled to go to trial on the burglary charges next week, but the trial has been delayed. His attorney said the charges should be dropped. But Erzen, the state's attorney's office spokesman, said the case will move forward.

"We believe it is something that he needs to be held accountable for, and that's why we're moving forward with that case," he said.

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