BALTIMORE – A man was accused Sunday of fatally striking an off-duty Baltimore police detective in the head during a dispute over a parking space in a crowded nightlife district.
Sian James, 25, was charged with first-degree murder in the Saturday night death of Det. Brian Stevenson. James fled the scene and was caught hours later at a nightclub, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Guglielmi said James had retained an attorney, but he did not know Sunday afternoon who the lawyer was.
Stevenson, who would have turned 38 on Sunday, was out with a friend Saturday night celebrating his birthday and pulled into parking spot. James approached the officer after he got out of his vehicle and threw a stone or piece of concrete, hitting the detective in the head, Guglielmi said.
James, who has a history of domestic violence, left the scene with a woman he was with, but was arrested hours later at Mosaic, a downtown nightclub, after police quickly gathered and interviewed witnesses, Guglielmi said.
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld commended the quick work of his officers.
"Dozens of officers, investigators and civilian personnel put their lives on hold and worked throughout the night," Bealefeld said.
While investigators questioned James, his companion and witnesses overnight, other officers were at the side of grieving family members at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where emergency crews had taken Stevenson. He was an 18-year veteran with the department, Guglielmi said.
The attack happened in a neighborhood popular for its many bars and restaurants. Guglielmi said he lacked the words "to describe how heinous this act of violence is for something as truly petty as a parking space."
Stevenson, who was married and had children, was assigned to a unit that investigates crimes such as shootings, assaults and robberies, Guglielmi said.