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Gun Spotted In Driver's Car Before Baltimore Officer Dragged, Court Documents Say

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Charging documents for the Baltimore man accused of dragging a police officer for several blocks after fleeing from a traffic stop are shedding new light on the sequence of events that led up to the incident.

Joseph Black, 36, was behind the wheel of a Mercedes sedan that was pulled over for a traffic infraction Tuesday evening in the 5100 block of Park Heights Avenue, according to the court documents obtained Thursday by WJZ.

The court documents state that two officers—identified as Sergeant Ramberg and Detective Dow—were speaking with Black when Ramberg pointed out a gun on the floor board of the Mercedes. Ramberg then asked Black to exit the car.

It was then, the records allege, that Black shifted the car into drive and drove away with Ramberg hanging onto the driver's door. He clung to the sedan for two blocks before it veered into another lane and sideswiped a parked car, knocking him off.

The driver then allegedly fled, leaving the injured sergeant lying in the street.

Ramberg was rushed to University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where he underwent emergency surgery to treat injuries including several broken bones. His condition was upgraded Wednesday from critical to fair.

Black, who had handed over his driver's license to the officers during Tuesday night's traffic stop, was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly barricaded himself inside of a home in the 1600 block of Druid Hill Avenue, authorities said.

Black, described by police as a repeat violent offender, is charged with attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment, court records show. He's being held without bail while awaiting trial.

The 36-year-old has been arrested at least 19 times before, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Wednesday. His prior arrests included violent crimes, such as attempted murder and assault weapons charges.   

"When we talk about repeat violent offenders, this is what we are referring to," Harrison said of Black.

Mayor Brandon Scott described Black as "an individual who had no business being out, who should still be behind bars."

A WJZ review of Black's criminal history found he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in October 2019 after what police described as a "gun battle."

Attorney Bradley MacFee, who represented Black in the 2019 case, said his client described the incident as self-defense. "There were people who were threatening him and he just reacted to that," MacFee said.

Black faced up to 15 years in prison for charges related to the October 2019 case but spent less than two years behind bars.  

"He had spent about 19 months detained," MacFee said. "You would never see a deal like this."  

MacFee said the deal was a result of a backlog of cases caused by the pandemic and a lack of prosecutors at the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office.  

"There really aren't all that many prosecutors left, certainly not in the numbers that are required to be able to accurately and adequately work up these cases and take them to trial," MacFee said.  

State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby stands by the plea deals.

"Mister Black was defending himself from being shot," said Mosby, whose office offered Black plea deals in two separate cases.  

The second case, Mosby said, was because they didn't have enough witnesses.

"If we don't have cooperative witnesses or inconsistent witnesses, it's really difficult to prove that case."

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