Prosecutors: Police fired at teen by mistake while pursuing wanted Hanover-area man

The Associated Press
David Robert Leatherman

EMMITSBURG, Md.  Prosecutors in Maryland have found that a sheriff's deputy and Pennsylvania state trooper mistook a 15-year-old bystander for an attempted murder suspect from Penn Township they were chasing last year and fired shots in the teen's direction eight times. The teen was not struck.

But The Frederick News-Post reports that in a report released Wednesday, prosecutors investigating the October 2020 incident found the "use of deadly force" was not "objectively unreasonable." The Frederick County State's Attorney's Office won't pursue criminal charges against the unidentified county deputy or trooper.

It was unclear why the shooting involving the teen was not disclosed until seven months after the incident. Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said authorities did not intentionally withhold the information.

Law enforcement officers from Maryland and Pennsylvania pursued David Leatherman, 43, of Penn Township, who allegedly shot and critically wounded a man Oct. 7 in Penn Township, and Bryan Selmer, as they fled in a vehicle and later on foot. County deputies fatally shot Selmer, 38, and prosecutors determined that shooting was justified.

Leatherman was extradited to Pennsylvania to face charges on Dec. 24 and is being held in York County Prison without bail.

The new report provided details about the shooting involving the teen who crossed paths with Leatherman as the suspect fled from authorities in Emmitsburg. Prosecutors found Leatherman and the teen were similar in stature and both were white and wearing gray hooded sweatshirts. Both the deputy and the trooper mistook the teen for Leatherman and told investigators they believed they were being fired at when they fired.

Jenkins told the News-Post that the sheriff's office is conducting an internal investigation and the deputy involved has been working on modified duty since the shooting. A Pennsylvania State Police spokesperson declined to comment on the trooper's involvement.