Police and D.A. Refusing to Release Information
(MD) – It’s been 5 1/2 months since a state trooper, with the Maryland State Police, shot and killed 16-year old Peyton Ham. The family and community have been fruitlessly waiting for the promised results of the investigation. Any attempts to get information, have been met with stonewalling by the State Police and the State Attorney’s Office.
It Began with Two 911 Calls
Authorities in Maryland got two 911 calls just before 1:30 p.m. Tuesday about a “guy acting suspicious” who the callers thought had a gun, said Col. Woodrow Jones, the state police secretary. The first call was disconnected when the operator asked for a location, while the second caller gave an address but not a name, he said.
Peyton Ham had an air soft gun that did not have the orange marking to show it was a toy. It would have looked like a real gun to the police officer. From this point on, we only know what we’ve been told by the Maryland State Police, who are basically, investigating themselves.
Supposedly Ham was in a shooting stance pointing the toy at the police officer. The officer shot Ham, who fell to the ground. Ham got a knife out of his pocket and tried to get up. The police officer shot him again. Ham was taken to the hospital where he died.
Criminal Investigation Started
The unidentified police officer was a state trooper with the Maryland State Police. The Maryland State Police began both a criminal investigation and an internal affairs investigation into the shooting. The criminal investigation is being conducted by their homicide unit.
The State Police have released some tidbits of information and nothing further. At first, Ham’s family waited patiently. When no information came out, they began making requests for information. As their requests were denied, they became more vocal and the community supported them, but the police still remained silent.
What They Won’t Tell Us
Originally, the State Police wouldn’t even tell us who the police officer was who shot Peyton Ham. They have since released his name, Trooper Joseph Azzari, a 2-year veteran, and that he has been placed on paid administrative leave. They also released “a photo of a knife with a three-inch blade they say they found on Ham’s person.”
According to TheBayNet.com, Kristee Boyle said,
“We know that the information in the final report from the State Police has been in the hands of the State’s Attorney’s office for quite some time. We wanted to remind the State’s Attorney’s office that we’re watching, and we’re waiting for answers and a decision.”
So they have the report, but won’t tell us is how many shots were fired. They won’t tell us how many of the shots hit Peyton Ham. They will not allow any information from the autopsy to be released. “The St. Mary’s County state’s attorney says they have yet to finish their autopsy, for a boy who was killed in April.” Even if the autopsy hasn’t been completed, which is bizarre if true, they would at least know how many bullets hit Ham. They also won’t release the officer’s report. And they won’t tell us if they have any video and/or audio of the shooting.
Investigative Reporters Dig In
Reporters with The County Times were suspicious of the stonewalling and began their own investigation. They were able to find a neighbor who had an audio recording of the shooting (probably on their home security). The below is the timeline of shots fired that were heard on the audio, as reported by Southern Maryland Online.
• At 1:26:35 p.m. on April 13 the trooper begins firing his service weapon, a Glock 22 .40 caliber pistol, which has a magazine capacity of 15 rounds.
• At 1:26:39 p.m., the firing has stopped briefly after 10 shots; the shots were fired in five seconds.
• At 1:26:42 p.m., the recording shows the trooper fired shot number 11 three seconds after the initial salvo. Evidence markers from the scene indicated the officer moved about 9 to 12 feet closer to Ham before firing shot number 11.
• At 1:27:30 p.m., emergency sirens can be heard, 48 seconds after the 11th shot was fired.
• At 1:27:39 p.m., the officer opens fire again, firing four additional shots at close range, 57 seconds after shot number 11. The gunfire ended at 1:27:42 p.m.
15 shots were fired at the 16-year old. If Trooper Azzari had a regular magazine, this would mean he emptied his weapon, commonly referred to as a magazine dump.
It’s very concerning that the State Police and the State Attorney’s Office seem to be stalling the release of information in this case. It almost feels like they want people to forget about it so they can sweep it under the rug. If the public doesn’t keep pressure on them, that might be what ends up happening. The truth needs to come out.