RANDALLSTOWN, MARYLAND – The family of Christopher Brown — the Randallstown teen who died this month after an altercation with an off-duty Baltimore County police officer — is demanding the officer be charged.
“An arrest needs to be made,” Brown’s mother, Chris, told reporters Monday afternoon at a relative’s home in Randallstown, where numerous photos of the Randallstown High School junior were displayed around the room. She and the teen’s aunt wore a picture of him on their shirts, with the words “Gone But Not Forgotten” written beneath.
Chris Brown said that even though her 17-year-old son was buried over the weekend, “nothing’s been done.”
Brown, whose death has been ruled a homicide by the state medical examiner’s office, was asphyxiated during an altercation with Officer James D. Laboard on June 13, police said. Police continue to investigate Brown’s death but no charges have been filed.
Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said in a statement that his office is investigating the death and warned that such investigations can take time.
He said, “I can assure Ms. Brown and all of the citizens of Baltimore County that we will collect the facts impartially and apply the law fairly. To do the job properly, we cannot rush the process, but we will do all that we can to move forward in a timely manner.”
Michael Davey, the police union attorney representing Laboard, was in a trial on Monday and not available for comment.
Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County police, said, “We know people are anxious for answers and they should get answers, but we need time to investigate.”
Although the death has been ruled a homicide, she said that doesn’t necessarily mean a crirme has been committed. Homicide is defined as death at the hands of another, and prosecutors must decide whether it was justified, negligent or murder.
Brown had been with a group of teens when one threw a rock at Laboard’s house, police said. The officer ran outside after them, and caught up with Brown, who was hiding in bushes outside a home on Starbrook Road. When Brown did not come out, Laboard grabbed him, and the two got into a physical confrontation, police said. Brown fell unconscious.
Police said Laboard, 31, an officer with the Woodlawn Precinct, called for help and attempted to resuscitate Brown.
Armacost said that the case is complicated because police officers have authority to arrest and detain suspects.
But Chris Brown said her family has been patient. After burying her son over the weekend, she said, “this is where I draw the line. I know if this was anybody else, I would’ve gotten results by now.”
On Tuesday, she plans to meet with others in the Stoneybrook Community Association meeting at Winands Road Synagogue Center to hear from other residents about what happened the night her son died.
A flier being distributed in the community said county police Chief James W. Johnson was scheduled to attend, but Armacost said that was incorrect. She said Western Patrol Division Commander Maj. Evan Cohen would attend.
Brown’s attorney, Russell Neverdon, said the officer should be treated the same as any other person. “He should’ve been arrested,” the attorney said, adding that that Christopher Brown had been retreating when he was confronted by the officer.
The mother “has been patient,” Neverdon said, but “she’s not having any sense of finality.”