Just when we thought we’ve seen the worst from the Baltimore Police Department, we are now learning they charged a man with attempted murder for doing nothing more than video recording a fight last year.
Jason Fyk, owner of WTF Magazine, ended up incarcerated for 50 days over the charge because a judge denied him bail, even though his video clearly shows he never came close to the purported victim.
In fact, the video shows the purported victim, Brandy Nicole Shipley, was actually the aggressor in the altercation, which took place in a parking garage on January 21, 2011.
Shipley also told police that Fyk never attacked her during the fight in which she exchanged punches with a couple of other men who were accompanying Fyk that night, including Steve Pullman of the motorcycle stunt team Adrenaline Crew, whom he was hoping to interview that night for his online magazine.
“I had just met them a few hours earlier and I was going to give them a ride because they knew the city and I was from out of town,” said Fyk, who lives in neighboring Pennsylvania.
Also, the charging report that landed him in jail goes into great detail about the fight, but never once alleges that Fyk threw a single punch, instead accusing him of pulling Shipley’s wallet from her purse, but not actually stealing it, a charge he denies.
Fyk believes police came after him so strongly because Shipley has a relative working within the police department; a Detective Sam Shipley.
“We do not know what their relationship is but we know they are related,” Fyk said in a two-hour telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Sunday night.
“He was never identified in any of the paperwork but he was there when Brandy gave her statement.”
You can hear Detective Sam Shipley mentioned in the opening of the above video, which Fyk produced in the hopes of acquiring an attorney to sue the Baltimore Police Department and the Maryland Attorney General for malicious prosecution among many other things.
Fyk also believes Aaron Goodman, father of Daniel Goodman, who was with Brandy Shipley that night, was able to influence police, prosecutors and maybe even the judge to treat him like a dangerous murderer.
The video is longer than 13 minutes and it may take two or three views to absorb the entire story, but it describes only a fraction of what he has gone through since the incident.
First, he began receiving online threats from Aaron Goodman whose son Daniel ended up with a black eye that night.
Then Baltimore police had Pennsylvania state police seize his car as evidence after tracking it down from a surveillance video camera in the parking garage where the fight took place.
Then Pennsylvania state police raided the home he shares with his wife and toddler son, seizing every piece of electronic equipment.
Then somehow the case ended up getting transferred from the Baltimore City State Attorney’s Office to the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.
“They don’t even do circuit court stuff,” he said.
Fyk is wondering if Aaron Goodman, who mentioned Fyk’s son and wife by name in his online threats, had anything to do with the attorney general taking an interest in his case, which was when the charges against him went from 2nd-degree assault to attempted murder.
When he turned himself in, Maryland District Court Judge Miriam B. Hutchins denied him bail, stating that “anybody who would drive to Baltimore to videotape an attempted murder doesn’t deserve to be on the streets.”
“I had never been arrested before in my life,” Fyk said. “The guy before me was in there for beating somebody with a baseball bat and had seven prior convictions for assault and he was granted bail.”
During his 50-day stay in the Baltimore City Detention Center, 12 men were stabbed on his floor, including “one guy was beaten so bad, his brains were sticking out of his head.”
When he was finally released in May 2011, it took another four months for police to return the items they seized from his home.
And when he inquired to the detective assigned to his case as to why they didn’t pursue charges against Aaron Goodman for making threats or against Brandy Shipley for perjuring herself in her sworn statements, he received the following email:
You were involved in a crime which occurred in Baltimore City and was I therefore investigated by this office. The actions which you displayed by video taping the assault of an innocent individual were deplorable. You were directly involved in this crime and it was only after detailed case review that a nolle prosequi was entered in reference. A nolle prosequi of charges does not mean that the incident you were involved in did not occur it simply means that the state has made a determination not to prosecute you. The subsequent allegations which you referenced concerning stalking, harassment, email and internet use did not occur within this jurisdiction and do not fall under the purview of this agency. No further investigation will be conducted by this agency in reference to this incident. If you feel the need to pursue this matter further I suggest that you contact whatever agency has the proper jurisdiction and authority to investigate this matter.
Lt Mark Walrath
Commander CD Detective Division
The interesting part of the above email is that he had been corresponding with Detective Carl Stambaugh, who appears to have cut and pasted the above response from Lt. Walrath, who up until the email, had not officially been involved in Fyk’s case.
“I think Walrath is the connection to (Sam) Shipley or Goodman,” he said.
The entire ordeal has cost Fyk $500,000 in legal fees as well as in lost business expenses.
He had just launched his online magazine less than a week before the fight broke out in the garage, but nine employees ended up quitting while he was in jail.
Now he is danger of losing his home in Westchester County.
How did all this madness start?
The Night of the Fight
On January 21, 2011, Fyk drove down to Baltimore to interview members of the Adrenaline Crew, a motorcycle street stunt team.
Fyk met members Steve Pullman and Ricky Steinman at a Baltimore bar named Angel’s Rockbar, but it was too noisy to do an audio interview, so he spent the night taking photos and promoting his new magazine.
At one point, he photographed Brandy Shipley dancing on top of a table even though she claimed in her statement to police that she was not there that night.
When the bar closed, he agreed to drive Pullman, Steinman, a woman named Andrea and a man named Alan Schultz who also video recorded the fight.
The plan was to go to Andrea’s house and allow him to finish the interview with Pullman.
While in the garage, they spotted Brandy Shipley, Daniel Goodman and a dark-haired woman in a Chevy Nova and asked her to do a “burnout” where she spins the tires so they could get it on video.
Somehow that led to an argument, then some pushing and shoving and before Fyk knew it, punches were being exchanged.
Shipley eventually tries to get into her car to drive away, but then Pullman rushes up to her and spits on her, which prompts her to chase after him and the melee escalates even further with Steinman kicking the dark-haired girl and Pullman exchanging punches with Goodman.
At this point, Fyk can be heard telling Andrea, “I have way too much to lose.”
You can also see Schultz rushing in close to the melee with his video camera.
Fyk said that at this point, he turned his camera off and started to break the fight up.
“It was really getting out of hand,” he said. “I just wanted to get out of there.”
Shipley told police that Fyk pulled her wallet out of her purse, held it over her and said, “ha ha, you can’t have this” but she somehow got it back.”
Fyk said that he and police have seen Schultz’s video but shows nothing like this. Schultz’s video, however, has not been posted online.
The only surveillance camera in the garage was pointed towards the exit, which captured his license plate as he was leaving, but not the actual fight.
Fyk said he ended up dropping the others off and drove home without getting his interview because he didn’t want anything to do with them afterwards.
He uploaded the video to Youtube two days later, which is when he started getting online threats by Aaron Goodman, father of Daniel Goodman, who doesn’t seem nearly as aggressive as Brandy Shipley.
“It stayed online for 11 hours and it got 3,700 hits but I took it down after Aaron started threatening me,” he said. “I figured the cops already had it and they would sort it out.”
But Goodman went as far as to launch a blog called Fyk the Prick where he continued the threats as you can see in the screenshots contained in this PDF, including a statement Goodman says, “I’m from your government. I’m here to fuck you.”.
Pullman and Steinman were eventually arrested on attempted murder charges with Pullman staying in jail for 52 days and Steinman for six months.
In fact, police ended up shutting down I-95 to arrest Steinman in an operation complete with snipers and helicopters.
Fyk talked to attorneys at the prestigious Murphy Firm in Baltimore who declined to take the case because they believed police might be able to make an argument for prosecutorial immunity if they convince a judge they had probable cause in arresting him on attempted murder charges.
It doesn’t even come close to that in Fyk’s video and it would be a leap to believe that it did in Schultz’s video.
After all, people get in drunken brawls every night without winding up in jail on attempted murder charges.
The law firm also said that the city of Baltimore is broke and would not pay a settlement even if it lose the suit.
It is pretty obvious the Baltimore Police Department has some serious issues, which is one reason why the U.S. Department of Justice singled it out last month in establishing guidelines in how to deal with citizens who record them in public.
Fyk is hoping to find an attorney who is not afraid to stand up to the department. In the mean time, he is rebuilding his business, trying to save his home and writing about his experiences for a book he hopes to publish.
“Jail really damaged me,” he said. “It left me with PTSD. I thought I was going to die in there.