A Columbia man shot by police when he refused to drop a knife while shoplifting was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for assaulting a store security guard at the BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Howard Carvel Smith, 33, of Columbia pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of reckless endangerment and second-degree assault.
Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt sentenced Smith to time served (323 days) for reckless endangerment and ten years in prison for second-degree assault. All but three years of the sentence has been suspended.
“All I’ve heard is that you didn’t want to be taken into custody,” said Judge Bernhardt, according to a press release. “That’s never, never, never a reason to pull a knife, period. We’re talking shoplifting.”
Last July, Smith entered the BJ’s Wholesale Club on Snowden River Parkway and tried to shoplift a pair of shorts, according to a statement of facts sent to Patch. After looking at several clothing items, including a pair of white shorts, Smith walked past the register with the shorts after feigning looking for his wallet and went into the men’s bathroom.
A BJ’s loss prevention officer, Eric Ramsdell, saw Smith and noticed that he came out of the men’s bathroom wearing different clothes.
Ramsdell made Smith return to the men’s room with him, where Smith admitted that he had put the shorts on underneath a gown-type garment he had changed into. Smith took off the shorts and tried to flee when Ramsdell went to speak with a store manager.
When Smith was stopped at the front of the store, he pulled a knife from the left side of his gown. As he left the office, Smith picked up a wooden stick and tried to board a public bus. The bus driver did not open the door because he saw the knife Smith carried.
Howard County police officers who arrived at the store ordered Smith to drop the knife. When he refused, Officer David Sharpe fired three to four times, shooting Smith in the head and chest.
“I am truly sorry,” said Smith in court Wednesday according to a press release. “I understand. . . it makes no sense.”
Upon release, Smith faces a five-year supervised probation on the condition that he will not contact Ramsdell or any BJ’s employees or witnesses of the incident, not return to the BJ’s store premises, make restitution to First Transit ($1,5000), be evaluated for drug and alcohol abuse with follow-up treatments if necessary, and be undergo a psychological evaluation and follow-up treatments if necessary.