When two robbers burst into the store, sticking guns to a customer’s head, the girls didn’t shriek. They didn’t cry in fear. Instead, they laughed during the holdup before a man was shot.
It’s a short video clip, obtained exclusively by The Examiner, that has outraged prosecutors, judges and even Baltimore’s mayor.
“[The victim] is left crumpled on the floor of the carryout, bleeding,” prosecutor Jen Rallo said at a Dec. 1 court hearing in which she played the video for Baltimore Circuit Judge Shirley Watts.
“He is left to live or die on his own. ... No one helps [him],” Rallo said. “He is in pain. He asks to go behind the counter because he is afraid these individuals will return and shoot him again. And the store actually continues serving customers as [the victim] is bleeding on the floor.”
The shooting occurred Aug. 6 at 12:12 a.m., shortly after a 46-year-old man entered the Chinese Cuisine carryout on Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore, according to charging documents.
Two 17-year-olds entered the store — first one, then the other — with blue bandannas covering parts of their faces, Rallo said in court, describing the video to the judge. They rummaged through the customer’s pockets, held guns pointed at his head and then both shot at him, striking him in the left knee, Rallo said.
“The victim could have lost his life,” the prosecutor said. “There was no need to shoot this victim. There was no need to attack this man.”
Darren Brown, of the 3300 block of Ellerslie Avenue, and David Jefferson, of the 2700 block of Tivoly Avenue, are charged as adults with first-degree attempted murder in the crime — a charge that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Judge Watts ordered the two teens tried as adults, after viewing the video of the crime.
“We have a video of the offense ... a brazen public offense committed in the presence of spectators in a small convenience store,” Watts said. “Onlookers stood by and laughed as this offense was going on.”
Brown’s attorney Lewyn Garrett said his client should be tried as a juvenile, keeping with a recommendation from court medical services. He said Brown suffers from lead poisoning and has a learning disability. He added that his client is 5 feet 9 inches, not 5 feet 6 inches as stated in the police report.
“He’s clearly not 5-foot-6,” Garrett said. “They can’t show a picture of Shaq and say, ‘Well, Darren Brown is Shaq.’ ”
Garrett also complained that prosecutors have not turned over the names of their witnesses to him, calling them “phantom” witnesses.
“Mr. Space Ghost saw Mr. Brown shoot this person,” he said. “Well, I don’t believe there is a Mr. Space Ghost.”
But Rallo argued that Brown’s admitted full-time job — drug-dealing — shows he’s acting as an adult.
“He was selling drugs, making $200 a day,” Rallo said.
The 46-year-old man is undergoing physical therapy and continues to have trouble bending his knee or walking, Rallo said. He is also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the prosecutor.
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon first aired concerns about the shooting and the bystanders’ reaction at Wednesday’s meeting of the Baltimore City Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, when she requested a study on the recommendations made to judges by court medical services about whether suspects should be tried as adults or as juveniles.
“Girls standing there. They continued to laugh. Blood’s all over him,” Dixon said. “People come back in and get their orders. It’s like business as usual. Clearly ... we have some very mentally disturbed individuals in the city.”
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