Baltimore Police officer who fatally shot a man Monday evening has four previous fatal shootings in his career

Tribune Content Agency

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Police officer who fatally shot a man in East Baltimore on Monday night has previously shot and killed four other people in the past decade.

The officer was identified by sources and his attorney as Sgt. Joe Wiczulis, who was involved in shootings in 2010, 2013, and 2016, the latter which involved 56 rounds being fired that killed a father and son.

A department spokesperson would not disclose the officer’s name.

In all five shootings, police said Wiczulis and other officers came upon a suspect who was carrying a gun. In the previous instances, prosecutors cleared him of criminal wrongdoing each time.

“He’s an outstanding officer who has been assigned to some of the most dangerous areas in Baltimore City, and every one of his shootings have been justified and have been reviewed extensively by the Baltimore city State’s Attorney’s Office,” said Michael Davey, an attorney who works with the police union. “He’s an active officer who gets involved in fighting crime, and these things happen.”

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said officers were called at 6 p.m. Monday to North Chester Street in the Broadway East neighborhood by an alert from the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system and encountered an armed male who “at that time, we believe, had been firing that weapon in this block,” Harrison said.

“This all stems from an argument that turned bad when one person was shot,” Harrison said at a brief news conference at the East Baltimore scene hours after the shooting.

Davey said Tuesday that two other officers also fired, after Harrison said only one officer had discharged Monday. Police said they are investigating the shooting.

Reached Tuesday, Wiczulis declined to comment.

Wiczulis’ most recent prior shooting occurred nearly four years ago to the day, on March 31, 2016. Wiczulis and Officer Norman Jones were in plainclothes with another officer in the 400 block of E. Lanvale St. when they saw Matthew V. Wood, 43, and Kimani Johnson, 18, drive into the block near a playground, and emerge from a vehicle holding weapons, police said.

Police said at the time that they believed the men were poised to shoot a group of people across the street. After the flurry of gunfire,police determined Wood and Johnson had not fired any shots.

Then-Police Commissioner Kevin Davis hailed the officers at the time for confronting the men and said they prevented a shooting, while Johnson’s mother decried the officers, saying, “They wouldn’t shoot a stray dog 56 times. They shot my son as if he meant nothing.”

One officer present for the shooting did not fire. He told investigators that Wood opened the driver’s side door and emerged with the rifle in his lap, documents show. “You all wanna talk s—-?” Wood said to a group of three people before raising the rifle, Officer Reginald Jones told investigators.

Jones said he yelled “gun!” and said Wood turned toward another officer, Norman Jones. Reginald Jones took cover. He said Wiczulis fired and he saw Johnson go down.

The State’s Attorney’s Office concluded “there is no legal basis to charge these officers, who appear to have prevented even further violence on the streets of Baltimore.”

The 2013 shooting involved disgraced Gun Trace Task Force Sgt. Wayne Jenkins and then-partner Matthew Ryckman. Jenkins is serving 25 years in federal prison for robbing citizens and dealing drugs for years, as well as an evidence-planting incident from 2010. Ryckman has not been charged with a crime, but told the FBI that he had also taken part in stealing money and lying in official paperwork.

Jenkins did not fire, and his involvement in the 2013 shooting has not previously been reported, but it was included in an internal affairs report obtained by The Sun. Records from the case show Ryckman got a tip that someone was going to rob a Burger King restaurant. Jenkins gave chase through Latrobe Homes, caught the man, and put him into a bear hug.

Wiczulis was among several officers who responded to help, and some of those officers told the investigators the man “displayed a .22 caliber handgun,” records show. Jenkins released the man from the bear hug, and Wiczulis and Officers Peter Iacovo and Kyle Gaskin opened fire.

A top-ranking police official said at the time that he was “proud of the work done by the officers” and that the man, Donte Bennett, was violent.

The victim’s mother, Yvonne Bennett, called for an independent investigation, which did not occur. “There’s too many cracks in the story; there’s too many witnesses at the scene,” she said.

Then-Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said at the time that surveillance cameras had captured the incident, but the summary investigative report does not mention any footage being recovered.

One witness told The Sun at the time that Bennett got stuck trying to jump a fence and tried to surrender. She said he “died with his hands still up.”

In the 2010 incident, two city officers were shot. Wiczulis and two other plainclothes officers, Jordan Moore and Keith Romans, stopped a Chevrolet Caprice in the 2600 block of McElderry St. Police said at the time that the officers smelled marijuana, ordered the three occupants out and began to search the car.

A police spokesman said the driver, Thomas Tavon Miller, broke free, jumped back into the car, grabbed a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun and opened fire on the officers. Moore and Romans were injured. All three officers returned fire, police said.

The officers were given department awards for the 2010 shooting. Romans was given the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest honor. Moore received a citation of valor and a silver star, and Wiczulis received a silver star.

Wiczulis is currently a defendant with Gun Trace Task Force Detective Daniel Hersl in a lawsuit brought by four people related to a 2015 incident. They say they were attending a cookout in the 2100 block of Aiken Street when Hersl, Wiczulis and a third officer, Donald Hayes, arrested them, “falsely alleging that the Plaintiffs were all involved in CDS and Firearms related crimes.”


©2020 The Baltimore Sun

Visit The Baltimore Sun at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.