Interim Report of the Independent Investigations Division of the Maryland Office of the Attorney General Concerning the Officer-Involved Death of Aaron Fifi Onomah Mensah, on November 29, 2022, Pursuant to Md. Code, State Gov’t § 6-602, the Office of the Attorney General’s Independent Investigations Division (the “IID”) provides this interim report to the Frederick County State’s Attorney regarding the shooting death of Aaron Fifi Onomah Mensah on November 29, 2022.
The IID is charged with “investigat[ing] all police-involved incidents that result in the death of a civilian or injuries that are likely to result in the death of a civilian” and “[w]ithin 15 days after completing an investigation … transmit[ting] a report containing detailed investigative findings to the State’s Attorney of the county that has jurisdiction to prosecute the matter.” Md. Code, State Gov’t § 6-602(c)(1), (e)(1). Due to the delay in receiving ballistics analysis and the results of the autopsy examinations, in contrast to the finality of all other aspects of the investigation, the IID and the State’s Attorney agreed that an interim report would be useful.
This interim report is being provided to Frederick County State’s Attorney Charles Smith on March 20, 2023. The IID will supplement this interim report when it receives the results of the ballistics analysis and autopsy examinations.
Introduction On November 29, 2022, at 2:10 a.m., deputies with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) responded to a home in the 5800 block of Haller Place after receiving a 911 call regarding a man attacking and stabbing his mother and father. Once on scene, deputies located and began providing medical aid to the father and mother — — who were both suffering from stab wounds.
Around the same time, additional sheriff’s deputies, officers with the Frederick City Police Department (FPD), and Maryland State Police (MSP) Troopers responded to the area and found the suspect, later identified as Aaron Fifi Onomah Mensah, in the Officers told Aaron Mensah to “drop the knife,” and attempted to talk to him to get him to comply with their requests. At 2:29 a.m., Officer Connor Walsleben deployed a less-lethal beanbag shotgun round at Aaron Mensah, who then rapidly moved toward officers. Seconds later, Officer Hailey Leishear and Deputy Joseph Honaker used their Tasers, but only Officer Leishear’s probe made contact with Aaron Mensah’s body. Less than a second later, Deputies Cassy Boettcher, Travis Stely, and Nathan McLeroy fired their guns. Aaron Mensah was struck by the gunfire and fell to the ground. Officers moved toward him to render aid and take him into custody. Police recovered a knife from under Aaron Mensah’s body at the shooting scene, and he was pronounced dead by EMS at 2:45 a.m. and were taken to area hospitals and was later pronounced dead. This report includes an analysis of Maryland statutes that could be relevant in a case of this nature.
The IID considered the elements of each possible criminal charge, the relevant departmental policies, and Maryland case law to assess whether any charge could be supported by the facts of this incident.
Because the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office—not the Attorney General’s Office—retains prosecution authority in this case, this report does not make any recommendations as to whether any individuals should or should not be charged.
Throughout the 911 call, can be overheard in the background also talking to a dispatcher. At 2:11 a.m., the dispatcher instructed to apply pressure to his mother’s stab wounds. The dispatcher then asked to speak with the children’s mother, at 2:14 a.m. confirmed that she was attacked by her son, Aaron Mensah, with a knife. Based on the information relayed in both calls, the dispatcher directed police to the home for a “domestic in progress,” with a suspect attacking his parents. Officers from FPD, FCSO, and Figure 1. View of the front door at 5804 Haller Place.
The following findings are based on an examination of both the shooting and stabbing scenes; a review of body-worn camera footage from Officers Leishear, Walsleben, and Alexander Mangot, and Troopers Gabriel Berger and Kevin Carter; dash camera video footage; computer-aided dispatch records; police radio transmissions, recordings, and reports; and interviews with civilian and law enforcement witnesses. All materials reviewed in this investigation are being provided to the Frederick County State’s Attorney with this report and are listed in Appendix A.
Figure 2. Location of stabbing on Winding Ridge Way. MSP responded to the call. Based on the additional information were providing to 911, the call was upgraded; first to a stabbing, then to a double stabbing, and ultimately to a “possible shooting” when could not say for certain if injuries were the result of stab or gunshot wounds.
The first officer to arrive was FCSO Deputy Charles Jenkins II. When later interviewed by IID investigators, he said he used a back road to get to the neighborhood and then proceeded on foot.
Deputy Jenkins said that he saw a woman on the second-floor window of the location of the initial 911 calls. A review of body camera footage shows that he and the other officers eventually called the remaining Mensah family members out of the house and confirmed with the family that had been stabbed.
Next, Deputy Jenkins and FPD Officer Connor Walsleben, along with two other officers, entered the home to confirm no one else was inside. Officer Walsleben had a department-issued body camera that was active throughout the incident. While the officers were in the process of making sure no one else was in the residence, they later told IID investigators that they heard Deputy Nathan McLeroy call over the radio, “I’m out with the subject.”
When his father told him to put the knife away, Aaron Mensah responded, “Does this knife scare you?”
Police had never previously been called to the home, and there had not been any physical altercations in the home prior to the stabbing.
When his father told him to put the knife away, Aaron Mensah responded, “Does this knife scare you?” Additionally, when was asked about other weapons Aaron Mensah possessed, she remembered him having a bat with wire or nails wrapped around it. She also remembered that Aaron Mensah had previously owned a shotgun that either he or had turned over to FCSO at some point in the past.