From the Harford County Sheriff’s Office:
(Abingdon, MD – January 27, 2010) Late afternoon on Tuesday, January 26, 2010, Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputies attempted to serve a $ 4,000 B.O.S.E warrant on Ralph Wayne Beakley, 53, of the 3200 block of Philadelphia Road in Abingdon, MD. Upon deputies’ approach to the residence, they heard several loud pops, sounding like gunfire, possibly coming from inside the home. Unable to make visual confirmation and lacking any response from within the dwelling, Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputies were required to obtain a search warrant to enter the residence. While patrol deputies maintained the perimeter, special operations units to include the Special Response Team (SRT), Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT), K-9 and the Traffic Unit along with the Harford County Office of Mental Health responded to the situation. Local traffic on Philadelphia Road was interrupted from just north of SR24 to just south of SR543 throughout the time of the event.
At approximately 10:30pm, Harford County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team deputies made forced entry into the residence. Following their access into the home, they conducted a room-by-room search and located Mr. Beakley in the upper level of the dwelling. He was discovered, already deceased with multiple gun shot wounds to the upper torso region of his body.
How in the world does this not give probable cause?! If it doesn’t, the law needs to be changed. This man’s life could have been saved if the deputies didn’t have to go through the red tape…
BTW, what is a B.O.S.E. warrant?
I don’t think they really needed a search warrant. They said they heard gunshots. You can’t tell me that the police won’t come running into my house if they hear me shooting. They were most likely being overprotective of the agency. But the question the family should ask is if they would’ve went in the house right away, would they have been able to save that man’s life? If the answer is “maybe” then I suspect there will be a law suit anyway.
B.O.S.E. is child support I think.
BOSE is child support, though I can’t remember offhand exactly what the acronym stands for. He owed $4,000 in back child support which as much as that sounds like, is actually fairly low compared some of the ones I’ve served before.
just dropped in says
I think it is hard to say “his life could have been saved” but that was a possibility that should have been considered. To waste 8 or more hours before entering the home seems a little shameful to me. If they can storm a house and break down the door and enter for a drug bust, then surely the same could have been done in order to attempt to save a life.
The Pike says
Ummm…don’t they get warrants before they do those drug busts?
And a search warrant is required in every case for them to do that. We can’t just go kicking down doors whenever we feel like it.
vietnam vet says
I noticed they said, mental Health responded. I don’t know if that’s required or if they knew they were dealing, with a mentally ill person.
Either way He shot his self. possible scenario could have been officer down. or suicide by Cop.
the folks that live around this gentleman did not know him.So you cant blame the police for taken caution.
I am one of the folks that live around him I did not know him But I think the police should have let us know that something was going on I have a daycare in my home there were police walking around with guns on our road and in some people yards my daycare parents had trouble getting here because the road was close they had to park up by the county and walk down my road one parent was leaving and police office walk right passed her and her son with a shotgun in his hand.the road was closed from around 4pm to after 10:30pm
Have to agree with kathy. The neighbours should have been in formed. We are a small commuity with a few rentals. Pretty much everyone knows each other. As for our children they are scared to death because the parents dont know what is going on.
Mike J says
Oh my gosh!!!! A child actually saw a police officer carrying a shot gun? I bet he’s scared for life (sarcasm intended). Please……oh please, if thats the worst a kid sees in his life he is lucky.
The Pike says
A classic case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
You can thank a lawsuit happy society for this one. If the deputies immediately make entry without a warrant they open themselves up to getting in a shootout and probably sued over said shootout due to an illegal entry. Their employer would wring their hands of it, saying the deputies should have gotten the warrant, effectively hanging them out to dry. Deputies lose thier homes, their jobs and have their wages garnished for the rest of their lives.
Or they can get a warrant and call in SRT to try and talk the guy out before making entry.
Sounds like an easy decision to me.
BTW, a BOSE warrant is for unpaid child support.
this is so true have to follow step to save your own butt. There is more to the story he lost his job 6months ago could not pay rent has been going down hill since.
The Pike: I talked to my fiance about this and she said the same thing. It really is a shame that litigation would be considered at all in what I consider to be a life-or-death situation.
B.O.S.E stands for Bureau of Support Enforcement and yes it is Child Support.
Ralph was my uncle. I hadn’t seen him in many years because I still live in MO where he is from, I talked to him on the phone about 2 years ago. None of us can even begin to understand why he did this & my heart goes out to my cousins that are having to deal with this. All I can say is we are all devastated by this & wish he would have talked to someone rather than ending his life.
My heart goes out to his son what is going to happen to him he has special needs?
I have a few problems with this. The fact that it sounded like gunfire “possibly” coming from the home is strange. Any Police Officer should know exactly what gunfire sounds like, and where it’s approximate location is. Also, was this an apartment, a house, a condo or what?, the article just says dwelling. The difference in the type of location could greatly influence probable cause in relation to ownership of the home.
However, I believe that “exigent circumstances” presented themselves regardless. That means an officer can enter a home without a warrant, primarily to protect life, if the officer deems one in danger, including his own. I believe that gunshots from a home that I am attempting to serve an arrest warrant to would fall under this category. There are however, other examples of exigent circumstances but none apply to this story.
Im basing this opinion off of very little information, so hopefully DW will follow up with a better account since he has more experience and may have further information.
The Pike says
Huh? You seem to know the lingo, but not the real world application of all those big words. Go try and sound smart somewhere else, you’ve failed here.
Apparently Pike must think that APPROXIMATELY is a big word. Not sure exactly what I was wrong about? Its always the officer’s discretion whether or not he wants to enter a residence. I was merely pointing out that a search warrant was not necessary, since the article made it seem that way to me. Either way if it doesn’t feel right, play it safe. I realize you have no idea what Im talking about pike, so ill leave you to your people greeting at Wal-Mart. I kept the article to 5 syllable words or less, just for you.
The Pike says
I’m not sure what the word APPROXIMATELY has to do with my previous comment…but I digress.
I did not say that you were wrong. Your descripton of exigent circumstances was textbook perfect, like you just learned it at the academy. And you’re right, a warrant was not absolutely necessary, but it sure is better to have one when the SHTF. Your observations are typical of someone heavy on training and short on experience.
Just wait until a case you work ends up on a chat room like this. You’ll get to be second guessed by people who don’t know anything about the case and even less about police work in general. Then you’ll get it.
Well, thats all for now. I gotta get to Wal-Mart.
APPROXIMATELY has to do with the fact that you said I didnt understand the real world application of all those ” Big Words” The largest word I used was APPROXIMATELY, Its a five syllable, adjective, that means, nearly, but not exact, ect.
And by the way I’m 7 years in. Not quite a vet, certainly not green anymore. So I don’t need a lecture from you about “getting it”. I retain information through training, thats how its supposed to work, just like in the academy. Ive been through two police academies, one federal, and one state, plus a corrections academy.
Im not sure how I failed to explain the real world application? I explained it the best I could, trying to keep it simple for the folks who dont have police experience and arent familiar with how things work. Sorry I didnt live up to your expectaions, I neglected to realize how insightful and helpful you were to the good people of harford county.
Luke Skywalker says
It was a single family residence. I don’t know all of the details and I need to be careful with what exactly I say on here. From everything I’ve heard there was no doubt that there were gunshots fired. I think the BOSE guys were in a neighboring house trying to get keys to Mr. Beakley’s house when they heard the shots so not knowing exactly where they came from is reasonable.
Having no idea what the situation was inside they did exactly the right thing in not rushing in. In this particular case the guy was shooting himself, but there was no way to for them to know that (and even if they did know that rushing in is still bad choice as they would have no way of knowing if he was alive or dead or waiting to ambush anyone coming through the door.) The CNT and SRT teams were called out (CNT to try to talk him and SRT to do it the “other way” if it came to it.) Those are the ones who have the training and experience to deal with this type of situation and it would’ve been handled the same way by virtually any police agency with our resources. Your average patrol officer has basic training in clearing buildings, etc, but they are not equipped with the protective equipment needed to do so and most of them don’t carry tear gas, pepper balls, flash bangs, etc unless they are on the SRT team. The SRT team members have advanced training and equipment specifically for making forced entries, clearing buildings, and dealing with potentially heavily armed suspects. Most patrol officers have their side arm, a shot gun, and maybe a patrol rifle and as far as protective gear goes it’s a soft ballistics vest that won’t do anything against rifle rounds.
As far needing the warrant to go in…I’m not sure exactly why that was required, but I’m assuming the incident commander on scene made contact with the county attorney and was advised a search was required. From what I’ve heard about the condition of Mr. Beakley’s body there’s a good chance he was already dead before the CNT and SRT teams were even on scene.
Why he chose to kill himself, I don’t know. He knew he had the BOSE warrant and he knew that deputies were coming to serve it. He obviously had a lot of other issues going on in his life to take such drastic course of action.
I’m sorry for the family’s loss, but I’d be more sorry if I was having to go to a fellow officer’s funeral because they decided to rush in and ended up getting ambushed.
That was me posting above…I used the Luke Skywalker name as a joke in a different posting…just outed myself on that one!
I think I know him. Did he have a son named Adam?
I knew this guy. He could really work your nerves sometimes but overall he was a pretty decent/funny guy. May he RIP.
People only show you what they want you to see. They smile in your face while being plague by the pressures of life. They laugh in your presence only to cry when alone. Seclusion and isolationism, hurt and the emotional pain that can’t be quenched by social interaction or the common mundane routine of life that haunts them every conscience moment of existence.
Thoughts of love ones and friends don’t rescue them from the pain they suffer. They cope for a while only to surrender to the inevitable…choosing when to end it. It’s never just one thing that causes the unimaginable act. Cascading toward what they see as the only hope.
I’ll miss you Ralph. 6 strings plus 4 strings equals many melodies
He was my cousin. The story in the paper has a few falsehoods. The police are no longer talking to the family. This makes the situation very, very frustrating. I’m a little confused as to how someone can self-inflict several gunshot wounds to the chest. Yes, he had been very depressed. Perhaps life events were too much for him and he couldn’t cope. But, never in a million years did the family ever think he would take his own life. He was loved and his sons are deeply mourning this loss. Ralph will be missed and always remembered for being a great dad and overall great guy. I pray he is at peace. I’ll miss you Ralph.
First of all, I’m sorry for your loss.
As confusing as it is, he shot himself in the chest and abdomen multiple times. I’m not sure what you’re trying to suggest by your statements, but the police certainly didn’t shoot him and no one else was in the house so you do the math. I can’t imagine why someone would choose to kill himself by shooting himself in those locations and out of respect for the family members I’m not going to elaborate.
He obviously was overwhelmed by everything happening in his life and this was the last straw. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t seek help instead making an irrevocable and tragic decision.
I guess he was going for the heart?
Think that’s what he eventually hit, but not before he shot himself several times in places no where near it.
I’m not so sure that he inflicted all wounds himself. Since the police and all associated with the incident are refusing to communicate with the family, it makes it hard to really know what happened. There are several statements in the article that are incorrect. The family wants, and deserves, full disclosure.
As far as I know they’re still investigating everything that happened which is probably why the family is getting any more information than they already have.
I know quite a bit more about what happened than has been made public or what I’ve posted and I know that no one else was in the house when SRT hit the door and that the only objects fired into the house were gas canisters so unless someone was in there, shot him, and then managed to slip out before the perimeter was set up he shot himself.
I guess I’m just confused why you think someone else shot him when there’s no evidence that there was anyone else in the house when the shots were fired and the police didn’t fire any shots.
o my goodness if u would have seen the swat team that was in our yards there is no way anyone would have left this house. My dog was going nut from 6:00 on when the bullhorn was try to talk a die man out of his house for 4 hrs.
Wise Old Guy says
It seems that after reading the news article and the comments posted on this blog, several questions come to mind. The first being, why did the Deputy, or Deputies, leave the premises after hearing the gunshots? A search warrant was not required, unless they left the area and decided to return. Had innocent people been inside the residence, what about their safety and well-being when the gunshots were heard? What if the man that shot himself was still alive? Could he have been saved? Why didn’t the Deputies take immediate action, ie; call the residence phone number and if no answer, kick the door in, or go through a window? It seems, by the newspaper account, that no attempt at verification of the situation was made until many hours later.
By backing off and calling in the Special Operations Team, negotiators, etc. causing the situation to last for many, many hours, it makes me wonder what the overtime cost was to the taxpayers? Remember, government operations must be run as a business.
Regarding the questions about the deceased man shoting himself multiple time, this is not an overtly unusual situation. Someone who is so depressed can, and will do that. I have seen this first-hand several times.
Obviously, this situation could, and should have been handled differently.
If you read through everything that’s been posted most of your questions were already answered.
In any case, since you’re the expert and “obviously, this situation could, and should have been handled differently” maybe you’d like to explain what should have been done instead and give the commanders involved some advice on how to handle these types of situations in the future. Hell, strap on some body armor and help lock up some gang bangers down in the Vill.
As for the OT, most of the people called out were already working and weren’t getting paid OT for most of the incident.
just as guilty says
Just as guilty. We all can say woulda shoulda coulda until you are in that situation. We all need to thank our people in uniform not down them. It is so easy to sit on the side lines and judge.
Wise Old Guy says
DW and just as guilty: Not to argue the point with you, but I was in similar situations multiple times in over 3 decades of “being on the job”…..BEFORE body armor for law enforcement use was invented. Sitting on the sidelines and judge? Nope. As the youngsters say, “Been there, done that”….too many times!
I’m not saying that anyone else was in the house. The family has not been given any information and was told by the police department that this has been turned over to their legal department. Persons involved have been brave enough to talk to the family off the record. Needless to say, there are inconsistencies and questions as to how protocol and procedures were followed.
I hate to point this out but this type of police work does not play out like an episode of “The Sheild”. Cops arent going to bust down a door, or break open a window and go in guns blazing all the time. Yeah there is a protocol for an active shooter incident, but I dont think the particular incident met the crteria.
The folks who want a fast response, with blazing tactics, police snipers, and all the magic tv police gadgets, and vic mackey style run and gun police work seem to be the same people who are anti taser, hug a thug, be nice 2 the bad guys and mind our own business anti cop conspiracy having know- it- alls. You cant have it both ways.
If the police went in this house tv-cop style then everyone would be bitching that funds arent used properly because the tax payers pay for a swat team and negotiators and all that stuff so they should be utilizing them. Damned if you do damned if you dont. Congrats harford residents, you got the top notch, professional, fancy gadget Police response that you paid for, and all you will do is bitch about it.
How about we let the investigators do their jobs and wait for that outcome before we start saying it should be done different.
As a neighbor I have questions!!!! How does one shoot thierself multiple times? and why shut the road down for 9 hours????? and why stand out there and talk on the bull horn for 5 hours????
The Pike says
As a blogger I have answers!
One shoots theirself multiple times by pulling the trigger multiple times. Gunshot wounds are not instantaneously fatal. There was an incident years ago where a guy killed several FBI agents in Florida AFTER he had taken a mortal round through the heart himself.
The road was shut down because there was a possibility of gunfire crossing the road. I’m sure you would have been even more outraged if the road remained open and an innocent motorist caught a stray round as they drove past.
They were on the bullhorn for hours because they did not want to storm the house. Better to have a barricaded subject come out on their own. Entry is only made as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted. They did not know that the guy was already dead.
Hope that answers your questions.
8 hours to enter a place where pops sounding like shots were heard? Ever hear of hot pursuit, imminent danger?
Go Dagger !
Richie, there was no hot pursuit involved and while imminent danger may have been argument when the shots were first heard, the deputies on scene were not equiped to safely (of course, that being a relative term) make a forced entry into a house with an armed subject in possession of unknown weapons. SRT and CNT were called out to handle it while patrol set up a preimeter. No other shots were fired beyond those initial shots so it turned into a barricade situation. The only thing that maybe should have been done (and wasn’t as far as I know) was to evacuate everyone from the houses next door.
This isn’t law and order where detectives wearing suits armed with handguns and wearing no protective gear go kicking down doors to arrest someone.
When gunshots are heard….when a door is knocked on…sounds like there should have been immediate entry…
Four months have passed and unanswered questions regarding this incident still remain. No officer on the scene will speak and the incident report fails to address several issues. Sheriff Bane recently told the family he would research the incident and provide answers then suddenly became tight lipped and referred them to the Department of Law. Expectation is that department will regurgitate the incident report and nothing more.
Among the unresolved issues – Was department protocol for this type of arrest warrant followed correctly? Why wasn’t the house entered for some 9 hours when the landlady could have provided a key in early afternoon after the house became quiet? Why did a deputy speak to the mentally disabled son ALONE then leave him at his job site? Why was it thought there was a hostage situation that required the SWAT team and Mobile Crisis be deployed to the scene? Why were 10 canisters of tear gas shot into the small home? Was the significant structural and personal property damage necessary or did the situation get out of hand? Why were the sons forced to remain separated when they needed to be together for emotional support? The list could go on.
The family (and apparently some neighbors) would like answers as to why a seemingly innocuous situation escalated into a goat rope. If errors occurred that day, the sheriff and his deputies need to take the high road, acknowledge mistakes, and extend an apology to the family. Sweeping errors under the carpet only gives Harford County deputies carte blanche to act unconscionably in the future.
The actions of all members of the Sheriff’s department are ultimately Sheriff Bane’s sole responsibility; his to defend or reprimand. I believe he would answer questions regarding this incident if he was confident deputies acted appropriately and according to department protocol. The fact that he will not personally address the issues sends a clear message, albeit unspoken.
Harford County citizens, this is an election year and you should vote your conscious. When you mark the ballot for sheriff this fall, vote for the individual who is honorable, trustworthy, interested in excellent community relations and who will always shoulder responsibility for departmental actions – right or wrong.
I think it is perfectly clear what happened…..the guy punked out and life and shot himself for what ever reason. The sherrifs did not cause his death. He did!
Never intended to imply the sheriffs caused the death. I knew the deceased and know the reason(s) behind his death. I said the sheriff’s department–in my opinion–acted with unecessary brute force, disregard for personal property and respect for the family, and took too long to resolve the incident. I respect your right to respond, but clearly you don’t know the circumstances of that day.
Sorry when gun shoots go of they need to act.
I’m sure you have an informed opinion on police tactics in regards to dealing with barricade situations…
As I sit and read the responses…some sensitive, some political, some attempting to give an explanation for the days events, some defensive, some attempting to show seniority in policy and procedure and a couple just rude……I think that I miss my dear friend who was a good father and friend….I pray that his sons Adam, Jason and Matthew are finding ways to go on with life and do great things as he would want them to. Ralph and I spent a lot of time together before I moved away and I wish I had picked up the phone and called him when I thought to do so….One day they will sort out who should have or should not have done what but in the mean time it’s not going to bring back my friend….
Dove, Your kind comments are appreciated. Ralph is sorely missed by many, particularly his boys. The family will never sort out the actions and reactions of the Harford County Sheriff’s Department because they claim “the incident was handled appropriately” and “no apology seems to be in order.” They have never answered even the simplest questions and have closed the door on communication.
Society has evolved to the point where very few take responsibility for their actions and, tragically, the family has found that is true even for those who are elected and/or paid to protect us.
One thing Ralph’s friends should take away from the event–when you feel the urge to call or visit someone, do so because we never know when a missed opportunity will be the last opportunity.