Montgomery Co. police highlight training after fatal shooting of unarmed man

The mental health training class has been mandatory since 2017, but Wednesday's class came just days after an unarmed Silver Spring man was fatally shot by a Montgomery County officer.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — A total of 13 Montgomery County police officers sat in a training class Wednesday night, fulfilling their mandatory eight hours of instruction in Mental Health First Aid, including techniques for de-escalating dangerous encounters.

The mental health training class has been mandatory since 2017, but Wednesday’s class came just 9 days after unarmed Robert Lawrence White, 41, of Silver Spring, was fatally shot by Montgomery County officer Anand Badgujar.

Police say body-worn camera video by officers and eyewitnesses indicate that White became combative and assaulted Office Badgujar, knocking him down before Badgujar fired his weapon on Three Oaks Drive in the residential neighborhood.

Badgujar may not have received the training in Mental Health First Aid when he attended Montgomery County Police Academy more than two years ago, but it is possible Badgujar received the training while previously serving about five years with the Baltimore City Police Department.

“I don’t believe he has [fulfilled the training] with Montgomery County,” said Capt. Paul Starks, head of the Public Information Office, Montgomery County Police.

Officer Badgujar is not speaking with police investigators and has not provided police any statement since the June 11 shooting.

“He has that right not to speak, just like anyone does in an event where they’re possibly going to be charged with a criminal offense. That’s a constitutional right,” Starks said.

Police have other means to further their investigation, including Badgujar’s and another responding officer’s body-worn camera video.

Evidence in last week’s shooting is being turned over to the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office. To ensure an independent review, the neighboring counties have an agreement to review each other’s officer-involved shootings.

Montgomery County Police investigators and representatives of the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office plan to meet Monday, June 25.

Starks said they are expected to discuss whether to publicly release video from the officers’ body-worn cameras.

Police say in the June 11 fatal shooting, the encounter lasted just two minutes, with the officer attempting to pepper spray White, who ran at the officer and continued to assault him while the officer was on the ground.

Montgomery County police say about one in 10 calls to police last year involved an individual with mental health issues.

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