Baltimore Police continuing their investigation into why a high-ranking police commander shot an unarmed man in the leg in Southwest Baltimore on Monday night.
John Rau showed Baltimore’s WJZ his gunshot wound. He was shot by police Major Byron Conaway in a bizarre incident that unfolded along Washington Boulevard.
It happened in front of several witnesses including his young nephew and his brother, Ronald Birmingham.
“He said, ‘What do you got in your pocket?’ My brother clearly stated ‘Officer I only have a Chapstick, I only have a Chapstick.’” Birmingham recounts.
In fact Rau was unarmed that night, but witnesses say he was shot by the officer as he pulled his hand out of his pocket holding a small Chapstick.
“He missed my brother’s artery by so much over that,” said Birmingham. “There’s no way you can mistake this for a weapon.”
Witnesses say Maj. Conaway, seen in a recent WJZ interview, gave commands for Rau to show his hands.
Police say they’re still investigating why the officer stopped and confronted Rau to begin with and why he pulled the trigger.
“I think everyone wants answers and we want answers too, but we don’t want to put out inaccurate information,” said police spokesman T.J. Smith.
Birmingham says he tried to rush to his brother to stop the bleeding but he was stopped by Maj. Conaway.
“The officer clearly stated to me, ‘I got a bullet for you too,’” said Birmingham. “I said ‘My brother’s bleeding’, he said, ‘Back up,’ and he kept pointing the gun and me and pointed the gun at my brother.”
Rau is expected to make a full recovery.
Maj. Conaway is on routine administrative leave duties during the investigation.
The police department’s Special Investigation Response team is in charge of reviewing whether the major’s use of force was justified. Those findings are then given to the State’s Attorney’s Office who ultimately decides if charges are warranted in the case.
In accordance with state law, Maj. Conaway has up to ten days to make a statement to investigators regarding the shooting.