HOLLYWOOD, Md. (August 19, 2021)—The County Times has obtained an audio recording that indicates there were a total of 15 bullets fired at Peyton Ham, the 16-year-old shot dead by a state trooper in Leonardtown on April 13.
The recording also indicates that a total of 15 bullets were discharged in a period of one minute and seven seconds. During that period the trooper ceased firing at Ham for 57 seconds after the 11th shot before firing four additional shots.
The County Times has shared the audio recording with the State's Attorney's Office and the family of Peyton Ham.
Christopher Longmore, attorney for Peyton Ham's family, issued a statement on the family's reaction to the recording.
"The family is troubled and concerned by the information they have learned to date," Longmore told The County Times. "They are anxiously awaiting the conclusion of the State's Attorney's Office investigation to learn more about what happened that fateful day."
The recording was taken at a residence off Hollywood Road and across from both the Leonardtown state police barrack and the site where Ham was shot, allegedly because he leveled what appeared to be a handgun at Tpr. Joseph Azzari who was responding to a 911 call about a suspicious person in the neighborhood with a gun.
The state's attorney's office has said they are examining the recording. "I appreciate the neighbor sharing that recording with us, just as we appreciate all of the members of the community who are assisting in this critical work," said Deputy State's Attorney Daniel J. White, who has overseen the investigation.
The timeline is based solely on the audio recording and shows the following:
• At 1:26:35 p.m. on April 13 the trooper begins firing his service weapon, a Glock 22 .40 caliber pistol, which has a magazine capacity of 15 rounds.
• At 1:26:39 p.m., the firing has stopped briefly after 10 shots; the shots were fired in five seconds.
• At 1:26:42 p.m., the recording shows the trooper fired shot number 11 three seconds after the initial salvo. Evidence markers from the scene indicated the officer moved about 9 to 12 feet closer to Ham before firing shot number 11.
• At 1:27:30 p.m., emergency sirens can be heard, 48 seconds after the 11th shot was fired.
• At 1:27:39 p.m., the officer opens fire again, firing four additional shots at close range, 57 seconds after shot number 11. The gunfire ended at 1:27:42 p.m.
The gun Ham is alleged to have wielded turned out to be an airsoft pistol, which State's Attorney Richard Fritz said did not have a distinguishing orange-or-otherwise colored tip to show it was not a real firearm, in this case a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol.
At a press conference the day of the shooting, held in front of the Leonardtown State Police barrack just yards from the site of the incident, State Police Superintendent Woodrow W. Jones III said they did not know how many rounds were fired.
Ham is reported by state police to have dropped to the ground at some point during the incident, and then is alleged to have tried to get back up while holding a knife That knife was revealed to be a folding pocket knife with a blade length of approximately three inches.
The state's attorney's investigative report has been delayed, Fritz has said, because the autopsy report from the state medical examiner's office on Ham's shooting is not yet completed.
The county's chief prosecutor said he hopes to have his office's report released to the public by September.
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