Body camera footage has been released that shows two officers involved in a violent encounter with an armed suspect. The assailant fired on the officers and struck one of them with three rounds. In the ensuing gunfight, the suspect was killed. The two officers were then left to assess their own wounds.
The incident occurred Sunday, September 23rd, in the early hours of the evening in Baltimore, in an area of town that has been plagued by drug trafficking and violence. The incident happened.
Officer Steven Foster and Officer Phillip Lippe tried to arrest 29-year-old Nathaniel Sassafras, who they suspected of dealing drugs.
Officer Lippe’s camera would have caught the start of the confrontation, but Sassafras shot him, and the bullet hit the camera. Lippe was hit two other times, once in the vest and once on his elbow.
Officer Foster’s camera captured most of the fight. As shots were fired, he sought cover and requested backup and medical assistance before returning to engage Sassafras and assist Lippe.
Sassafras was armed with a Sccy pistol, and was on his back, firing up at Lippe.
“We have taken extra steps with extra personnel to address the violence,” in this neighborhood, Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said. “This was part of the initiative.”
After Sassafras was incapacitated, Foster tore open Lippe’s shirt to look for any wounds. The moment shows just how frenetic a gunfight and its aftermath can be.
Lippe, for his part, was fueled by adrenaline and refused any medical attention. Foster had to forcibly move him from the scene to inspect his wounds.
Sassafras, though, did not survive the encounter. Even having the gun was a violation of his parole. “Nathaniel Sassafras was serving 20 years from June 2004 for second-degree murder, 5 years concurrent for use of handgun in crime of violence and 1 year and 1 day for second-degree assault,” The Daily Mail notes.
Sassafras was paroled in January, after serving the mandatory sentence. In Maryland, convicted criminals are required to serve half of their sentence, at least. Sassafras had served more than half, officials noted, and had been released after 13 years.
The following footage captures the highlights, and has transcription of the audio, which is cracking and hard to understand at times.
This video below is the version released by the Baltimore police. It shows more of Foster’s arrival and the chaos that followed.