A Baltimore City police officer has been arrested and charged with first- and second-degree murder, as well as first-degree child abuse, after his stepson was found dead inside an Anne Arundel County, Maryland, home.
A warrant was issued Tuesday for Eric Banks Jr., 34, after police discovered 15-year-old Dasan Jones’ body last week.
Banks is being held without bond. According to court documents, he waived the right to an attorney at his initial appearance.
Authorities said at a news conference Wednesday that bloody clothing, which had been concealed in a dresser drawer, was located at the home.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled Jones’ cause of death as asphyxiation.
Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal Awar called it “a heartbreaking, traumatic and horrific case.”
“This was a young man with a bright future,” she said. “DJ had just completed his freshman year in the Biomedical Allied Health Program at Glen Burnie High School. He took great pride and excelled in his academics. He was a magnet student and was an accomplished violinist.”
Awar said Jones “had a contagious smile, and a very keen sense of humor. He was able to light up a room.”
She added that there is body-worn camera footage from responding officers, but it won’t be released.
Banks had been earlier suspended without pay.
In an emailed statement, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said, “The alleged actions of Officer Banks are not only deplorable, but shocking to the conscience. This is a classic example of why I have advocated for the autonomy and authority to terminate officers when they are facing heinous criminal allegations. Our department will continue to work closely with the Anne Arundel County Police Department during this ongoing investigation.”
And authorities said Wednesday that prior calls for service to the home had been received.
Previous charges against Banks were connected to a struggle between Banks and the officers that placed him under arrest.
According to charging documents, Anne Arundel County police were called to a home on Stoney Point Way in Curtis Bay on Tuesday after a mother called police with concerns that Banks was not allowing the boy to leave the home.
The documents say that when officers arrived at the home, they asked Banks where the teenager was.
Banks told police that the boy left the home after he told the teenager a judge had awarded his mother full custody of the boy.
After looking outside the home and calling the boy’s mother, officers on the scene went inside to look for him. Once on the top floor of the home, an officer saw a hole in the wall with a white cover over it.
Authorities described the area where Jones’ body was found as “an upstairs access panel … to get access to the attic.”
An officer who looked inside found the boy’s body, and placed Banks in handcuffs.
When Banks was placed inside a police cruiser, he reportedly unbuckled himself and continued to try and stand and urged the officers to “double lock” his handcuffs. When an officer tried to make the cuff more secure, Banks was accused of trying to get out of the car and was put back in the seat as he allegedly told officers he wanted to “kiss his kids.”
Banks, according to the officer, was able to unbuckle himself again, then stood up in the car. As the officer tried to restrain him, he claims Banks tried to disarm him by grabbing for the officer’s service weapon. The officer said he was able to hold onto his holster and prevent Banks from getting the gun. The officer said while doing that, Banks stated repeatedly, “You’re going to have to end this.”
With the help of another officer, Banks was wrestled back into the car.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo and Matt Small contributed to this report.