As chaos descended on Baltimore Monday, city police commissioner Anthony Batts implemented two strategies to help quash the looting and rioting that ensued after the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
He took the usual approach of holding press conferences and reassuring citizens that peace would be restored. But he took a bite out of crime another way, by personally chasing down and tackling a ne’er-do-well.
Photographers captured the scene which unfolded near Mondawmin Mall — where Monday’s looting originated.
Batts, who served as police chief in Long Beach and Oakland, Cal. before taking the Baltimore job, was seen in uniform chasing after two men, both of whom were wearing backpacks and hoodies.
It is unclear exactly what crime the two men allegedly committed. The Baltimore police department did not respond to a request for comment.
Monday marked the second day of violence in the wake of Gray’s death. Gray, who is black, died on April 19, a week after being arrested following a foot chase. He sustained a spine injury at some point shortly before or after being arrested. Protesters claim that Gray is the victim of police brutality.
— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) April 29, 2015
Though Batts lent a personal hand to the effort to curtail crime, he admitted in a press conference after the night of rioting that police were “outnumbered” and “outflanked.”
“We needed to have more resources out there,” he said. Gray’s boss, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, has come under heavy scrutiny amid reports that she ordered police to stand down as violence erupted across the city.
She was criticized for not calling on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to call in the National Guard. After Monday’s violence, 5,000 guardsmen were ordered in and a curfew was installed.
Batts’ action on Monday was not the first time he’s taken a hands-on approach to policing.
In August, while riding in a police vehicle between community events, Batts observed two men dart into traffic — one with a gun drawn on the other.
According to WJZ, Batts stepped out of the vehicle and ordered the armed man to drop his weapon. He did so and was arrested.
Batts was involved in two other incidents earlier last year.
In May, WJZ reported that Batts and three detectives were returning from the scene of an officer-involved shooting and approached six men standing outside of a deli.
One of the detectives observed a bulge in one man’s waistband. When the man refused to give up the gun, Batts pulled out his service weapon and held it to the man’s head. The man still refused to give up the gun. At that point, according to charging documents, Batts punched the man “with a closed fist to the face.”
The Baltimore police department tweeted a picture of the weaponry recovered during that incident and acknowledged Batts’ involvement.
— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) May 16, 2014
According to WJZ, Batts helped pull a woman and her daughter from an overturned car earlier last year.
The Baltimore police department did not return a request for comment about the latest incident Batts was involved in.