SALISBURY — The Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office this week announced an investigation into the shooting death of a Salisbury man by Maryland State Police troopers in March was justified under the circumstances and no charges will be filed against the officers.
Around 8:15 p.m. on March 18, Winfield C. Fisher, 32, of Salisbury, entered the MSP Salisbury barrack and asked the duty officer, Cpl. Anthony Myers, to check a vehicle repair after he had received a safety equipment repair order. During what was otherwise a routine task completed several times throughout most days at the MSP barrack, Myers noticed the strong odor of marijuana coming from Fisher’s person and even from the paper repair order he had just slid under the window.
Myers later testified he questioned Fisher about the odor of marijuana and asked if he could search him. Fisher agreed and the search of his person revealed nothing, but Fisher became increasingly agitated, sweated profusely and had his pulse visibly accelerated, according to Myer’s testimony.
Sensing there was more to the situation than a routine repair order, Myers called for the assistance of Tfc. Jeffrey Wilkins. Before Wilkins could come around to the lobby, however, Fisher made a dash for the door and got into his vehicle, which he had backed in with the motor running. Myers grabbed Fisher, but the suspect was able to get behind the wheel of the running vehicle. Myers attempted to let go of Fisher, but got caught or “wedged in” near the open door and ultimately got dragged across the parking lot.
Myers ordered Fisher to stop, but as he continued to be dragged, he drew his service weapon and ultimately shot Fisher. Wilkins, who had come out of the barrack at the same time and saw his colleague being dragged by the vehicle also fired at Fisher after commanding him to stop. Fisher continued on still dragging Myers, who eventually dropped off. Fisher was found in his vehicle about 150 yards north of the barrack on Route 13 after striking a guardrail. Fisher was pronounced dead at the hospital. Myers was treated and released.
After several months of investigation, including extensive interviews with Myers and Wilkins, witnesses and a review of all of the evidence, Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello this week issued his final report, finding Myers’ and Wilkins’ use of force was justified in that Myers was in imminent danger of death.
“At the time Myers fired his aforesaid service weapon, the evidence demonstrates that Myers was pinned against Fisher’s drive side door and was in fear of being run over and crushed by Fisher’s vehicle as Fisher accelerated at a high rate of speed out of the barrack parking lot,” the report reads.
In his own testimony during extensive interviews, Myers related the events leading up to the incident and provided details about how he came to be pinned to the vehicle and dragged.
“The problem is, he was pinning me to the corner of the door,” he said. “What I think is I got stuck with something on my duty gear onto the driver’s door because I couldn’t get anywhere even if I wanted to. Even if I just wanted to let go, I couldn’t even do that. So pinned in there, there is no doubt in my mind I would have been dead. He would have run me over, he would have sucked me under the car and I would have been done. I drew my duty weapon and he still has his hand on my chest, looked me right in the eyes and I’m screaming ‘don’t do this, don’t do this.’”
In his report, Maciarello said Myers had exhausted all options before firing his weapon.
“When Fisher put the car in drive with Myers halfway in the car, Fisher escalated the encounter to the point where Myers’ use of deadly force became justified,” the report reads. “Myers … was being pulled by the vehicle and was in danger of being sucked under and run over by the car.”
Maciarello said it should be noted that the situation rapidly unfolded in a matter of seconds.
“Had Fisher not accelerated so quickly, or had Fisher momentarily stopped his vehicle to allow Myers to free himself, perhaps both men would have left the barrack that night without injury. Fisher, however, by his own actions placed Myers in a position of danger, where retreat was not possible and where any reasonable man facing such peril would have feared and fought for his life, safety and well-being,” he said.
Maciarello acknowledged the loss suffered by Fisher’s friends and family.
“It has been said before by this office that the taking of any life is tragic, that this office is aware of family and friends that mourn the death of Mr. Fisher,” the report reads. “It is so tragic that individuals, by their own conduct and their own poor choices, cast iron dice that justify others in their use of deadly force. Despite Myers’ multiple commands to Fisher to stop his vehicle, Fisher continued to accelerate, dragging Myers’ body and placing him in imminent fear of death, … the state will take no further action against Cpl. Myers or Tfc. Wilkins as their use of force in this case appears to be justified under the totality of the circumstances.”