A police department in Maryland on Friday night tweeted an explicit and graphic video of one of its officers shooting and killing a Black man from earlier in the week. The Montgomery County Police Department identified Sgt. David Cohen as the officer who fatally shot Finan H. Berhe and it released a 30-second video of the shooting recorded from bodycam.
It was the second widely reported instance of a white police officer shooting and killing a young Black man in the past three days.
On the video, Cohen can be seen in a squad car putting on a protective mask before exiting and encountering Berhe. Cohen instantly draws his gun, aims it at Berhe and yells, “Put the knife down!” Cohen then uses the radio to report in part that he had “one with a knife.” Berhe retreats but ultimately charges are Cohen, prompting the officer to fire multiple shots at Berhe, who was later taken to a hospital and died from the gunshot wounds.
The video did appear to show Berhe with a knife, but it’s unclear if its standard police protocol to shoot to kill in such an instance or use nonlethal force when a suspect is not armed with a gun. Cohen was placed on paid administrative leave and the Montgomery County Police Department said the “incident in its entirety remains under investigation by the Major Crimes Division.”
The full press release from the Montgomery County Police along with the video it provided can be seen by clicking here.
Berhe’s shooting death came one night after police in Indianapolis shot and killed Sean Reed, a 21-year-old Black man who live-streamed the shooting on his Facebook page. In that instance, Reed was running away from the police instead of toward them as seen in the video from Maryland.
At least one person wondered on Twitter why the Montgomery County Police Department would openly post such an explicit video that was embedded in the tweet for anyone to see just casually scrolling down their timelines. While transparency from police is always called for, rarely do police departments voluntarily offer bodycam footage so quickly after an incident (unless it believes there is nothing to hide.)
Coincidentally, the Montgomery County Police Department has a history of questionable behavior toward Black people. In July, then-Acting Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones gave a lackluster apology after bodycam footage showed his officers calling suspects the N-word. In 2018, Robert Lawrence White, a 41-year-old unarmed Black man, was fatally shot in Silver Spring, setting off national outrage as activists demanded justice and called the killing “murder” and “unjust.”