An off-duty 22-year-old Maryland state trooper who shot and wounded two men early Monday after he tried to break up a fight outside a College Park restaurant had been drinking in a nearby bar before the shootings, Prince George's County police said yesterday.
The shooting occurred about 2:30 a.m. at the Little Tavern restaurant, 7413 Baltimore Blvd., police said, after Trooper Ralph Lilly saw four men involved in a loud argument in the fast food restaurant's parking lot.
Lilly intervened, police said, when the shouting escalated into a fight. Two of the men allegedly turned on Lilly and two others fled the scene, police said. During the scuffle, police said, Lilly pulled his off-duty weapon and fired three shots.
County police investigating the shooting determined that prior to the shootings Lilly had been seen drinking at the Rendezvous Inn, 7325 Baltimore Blvd., a night spot popular with University of Maryland students. But police do not know how much Lilly may have consumed because Lilly, on the advice of counsel, has not talked with county investigators.
One of the victims, a 24-year-old Landover Hills man, remained in serious condition yesterday at the Washington Hospital Center, where he is recovering from a gunshot wound in the abdomen. The second victim, a 22-year-old Hyattsville man, required no treatment after a bullet grazed his hand, police said. Police declined to identify the injured men, saying that it is their policy not to name victims.
Lilly, who has been assigned to the JFK Highway barracks in Harford County during his 12 months on the force, has been placed on light duty, which is standard procedure for officers under investigation, according to Lt. Johnny Hughes, state police spokesman.
Lilly will remain on that status until the department's physician determines that he can return to full duty, Hughes said.
The incident will be the first police shooting to be automatically reviewed by a county grand jury under a policy started last week by Prince George's County State's Attorney Alex Williams. The policy calls for all life-threatening or serious shootings by any law enforcement officer in the county to be investigated by Williams' office and then reviewed by a grand jury.
An assistant state's attorney will review the incident with the county police investigating officer within 48 hours and make a preliminary determination about whether the shooting was justified.