SILVER SPRING, Md. - A Montgomery County police officer who shot and killed a man in Silver Spring last week has refused to speak to investigators about what happened.
Officer Anand Badgujar shot 41-year-old Robert White after police say body camera footage shows White assaulted the officer more than once.
“He has that right not to speak, just like anyone does in an event where they are possibly going to be charged with a criminal offense,” said Montgomery County police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks. “That’s a constitutional right. That’s not uncommon for an officer to hold off from speaking or not speak in these types of cases.”
It is still unknown why Badgujar approached White on Three Oaks Drive in Silver Spring. He had been responding to the area for a 911 hang up call.
Police say body camera footage shows that after Badgujar tried to speak to White, who was unarmed, White quickly became combative and assaulted the officer. Investigators say Badgujar tried to pepper spray him, but White didn’t let up, running at the officer and knocking him down. Even after he was shot, police say footage shows that White kept assaulting Badgujar.
The officer suffered minor injuries, according to Starks.
Friends tell FOX 5 that White suffered from mental health issues.
On Tuesday, Montgomery County police invited members of the media to attend a mandatory training course for new officers that helps them recognize and respond to those with mental health or substance abuse issues. For years, the training was optional.
“As of 2017, it’s mandatory,” said Officer Scott Davis, the crisis intervention team coordinator. “So every police academy recruit is going to get a full eight hours standardized training.”
Davis says officers then have the option to do a longer, more intensive course.
Police say about 1 in 10 calls in Montgomery County involve someone with mental or emotional issues.
“If we determine there is a mental health nexus to it, officers are trained to slow things down, use de-escalation techniques, verbal persuasion-type tactics that we’re taught,” said Davis.
Since the training has only been mandatory since 2017, there are plenty officers who have not had it. Police say Badgujar likely did not.
“I don’t believe he has with Montgomery County,” Starks said. “He had a number of years with Baltimore City Police Department, but I’m not sure what kind of training he had there.”
While Badgujar has refused to speak to criminal investigators, police say he will be compelled to talk during the internal administrative investigation into the shooting.
The Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office is investigating the shooting. Police will meet with those investigators on Monday to determine if and when the police body camera footage of the incident will be released.