RISING SUN — Three Rising Sun Police Department officers are on administrative leave after they shot and killed an armed man Monday night inside his parents’ home northeast of town, according to the Rising Sun Police Department.
Police officials identified James Douglas Meadows, 45, of North East, as the man who was fatally shot during the incident at about 7 p.m. Monday at the residence in the 200 block of Little New York Road. He was the owner of a local contracting business with no criminal record, according to online court records.
As of Tuesday morning, police officials had not identified the three officers involved in the fatal shooting.
The RSPD officers had gone to Little New York Road to assist Maryland State Police troopers and Cecil County Sheriff’s Office deputies with “an armed suicidal subject in a residence with possible hostages,” RSPD Chief Francis “Chip” Peterson reported.
“When my officers got there, there was one lone trooper there,” RSPD Chief Francis “Chip” Peterson, who was not one of the responding officers but had been briefed on the incident, told the Cecil Whig on Tuesday morning.
The RSPD officers were directed to the rear of the residence, where the man with the gun had been last seen, according to Peterson, who noted that the armed man, later identified as Meadows, was reportedly inside the house.
As the officers approached the side of the residence, they looked through a window and saw Meadows armed with a handgun, Peterson said. The officers saw Meadows tussling with another man, Peterson added, declining to identify the second man.
The officers commanded Meadows to drop the weapon, to no avail, according to Peterson. At that point, Meadows was standing inside the residence, next to an open sliding glass door, and the officers were outside the house, also positioned next to that open sliding glass door, he reported.
“(Meadows) refused to comply and turned toward the officers while raising the handgun. The officers perceived a threat to them and the second (man) and subsequently fired multiple shots from their agency-issued firearms,” Peterson outlined.
Asked if the incident could be classified as a suicide-by-cop, Peterson commented, “It’s possible, but I can’t tell you what was going on inside his mind at the time. I can tell you that his actions were perceived as a threat to our officers and the second man.”
The three RSPD officers were wearing their agency-issued body cameras, which videotaped the incident, Peterson reported.
“We do have body cameras and the video will be released at the appropriate time,” Peterson told the Whig.
Peterson emphasized that the RSPD officers, fearing for their lives and the life of the second man, opened fire only when Meadows raised his gun.
“There are only three professions where you can legally take a life — police officer, soldier at war and doctor,” Peterson said, adding, “A police officer and a soldier at war have to make their decision in a matter of seconds. A doctor can take his time.”
Peterson did not know if Meadows was living at his parents’ residence at the time of Monday night’s incident.
“It happened at his parent’s residence, but his last known address is listed as North East,” the chief explained.
On Tuesday morning, several vehicles were parked in the driveway of the Little New York Road residence where the fatal police-involved shooting occurred, and people were congregated on the property. A man, serving as a spokesman for the family, declined a Cecil Whig request for interviews.
The three RSPD officers have been placed on administrative duty, which is protocol after a police-involved shooting, Peterson reported. The agency has a total of six officers, so, with three of those officers now on administrative duty indefinitely, measures to reinforce police patrols in Rising Sun have been taken, according to Peterson.
“It cuts us in half. It greatly diminishes our patrols,” Peterson said, adding, “The request has been made for the Maryland State Police and the (Cecil County) Sheriff’s Office to supplement our patrols until which time the officers can return to duty. Law enforcement is a family. We were there for them, and they will be there for us.”
MSP detectives are investigating the fatal police-involved shooting, police said. After the detectives finish their investigation, the case will be referred to the Cecil County States Attorney’s Office, which then will conduct a review to determine what, if any, charges will be filed — also all standard procedure in a police-involved shooting, police added. In addition, the three officers will be subject to RSPD departmental administrative review, which is also standard operating procedure, Peterson said.
He added that the officers will receive counseling as well, under department protocol.
“The emotional care of our employees is paramount to us,” said Peterson, who has worked in law enforcement for 34 years, 22 of which he served with MSP before retiring. “It is a personal standard set by me to ensure that all involved are healthy and mentally sound when they return to duty, if they choose to do so.”
Lt. Michael Holmes, a CCSO spokesman, told the Whig that deputies had responded to the Little New York Road residence Monday night to assist MSP troopers.
“It was Maryland State Police’s call. We responded to back up Maryland State Police with a domestic disturbance. Rising Sun (Police Department officers) also felt the need to respond because it is close to town limits,” Holmes said, adding, “After the shooting, we just assisted by securing the scene.”
Asked if the deputies who responded were able to videotape the incident, Holmes reported that CCSO deputies do not have body cameras.
MSP Lt. Jeffrey Kirschner, commander of the North East Barrack, confirmed that detectives in his agency’s Criminal Enforcement Division are investigating the fatal police-involved shooting, but he deferred to Peterson when asked for information about the incident. He also reported that MSP troopers do not have body cameras.
While MSP detectives were conducting their on-scene investigation Monday night, CCSO deputies blocked the entrances to Little New York Road at Conowingo Road and at Sylmar Road and gave access only to motorists who can prove residency in the area.