A 37-year-old black Maryland man was shot and killed Wednesday by a Cecil County sheriff's deputy after being pulled over with a load of heroin. According to police, Terry Garnett, Jr. was attempting to flee the traffic stop when his vehicle approached the deputy, and "fearing for his life," the deputy opened fire.
Citing law enforcement sources, The Cecil Daily News reported that the unidentified deputy attempted to pull over Garnett's SUV early Wednesday afternoon, but Garnett refused to stop and turned onto a street that turned out to be a dead end.
"At some point during the incident, the vehicle turned around and accelerated toward the sheriff's deputy," Maryland State Police Sgt. Marc Black said. "Fearing for his life, the deputy pulled his department-issued .40-caliber Glock pistol and shot multiple times at the vehicle."
The SUV continued down the road after the deputy opened fire before running through the backyard of a residence and stopping after striking a tree. Cecil County EMS personnel pronounced Garnett dead at the scene.
Police did not say why the deputy tried to pull Garnett over, but when they searched his car afterwards, they found "a large amount of heroin," according to The Wilmington News-Journal.
Garnett had already served five years in prison for drug distribution and he was wanted for failure to appear on two other drug charges. He also had a history of attempting to flee from police.
This is another one of those cases with no known living witnesses other than law enforcement. Whether Garnett was indeed trying to run down the officer or whether he was merely trying once again to out-run a drug bust will probably never be known.
That's not good enough for Garnett's father, Terry Garnett, Sr. Upon arriving at the scene the same day, he told Baltimore's WMAR TV 2 that his son didn't carry a weapon and that police told him initially only that his son had died after his vehicle hit a tree.
"I hope something can come out of this to prove, no matter what he was doing, or if he was running from them or whatever, he doesn't deserve to be shot like that," he said. "Things happen in life but I don't think he deserved to be shot the way he did no matter what happened."
The State Police Homicide Unit will investigate the killing and turn its findings over to the Cecil County State's Attorney, who will make the final determination whether the shooting was justified. Meanwhile, the deputy who fired the deadly shots is on paid administrative leave.
Garnett, Sr. wasn't holding his breath waiting for justice.
"It's going to be like every other place they've done, they cover up how they did it and it's going to be the same thing," he said. "Because you don't have to shoot somebody to stop them if they're not shooting at you. That's the way I see it."