202

Police: Officer killed by friendly fire, brothers recorded ambush

Brothers of a Prince George's County man with a history of mental illness took video of their brother as he opened fire on a police station, police officers and passing vehicles Sunday — an onslaught that killed an undercover detective, who was inadvertently shot by another responding officer.

Ambushes of police on the rise in 2016 — Tom Jackman, Washington Post reporter

Download audio


WASHINGTON — Brothers of a Prince George’s County man with a history of mental illness took video of their brother as he opened fire on a police station, police officers and passing vehicles Sunday — an onslaught that killed an undercover detective, who was inadvertently shot by another responding officer.

Prince George’s County Officer Jacai Colson arrived to the District III police station in Landover in the middle of the barrage. He stepped out of his unmarked police car and immediately began to fire at the shooter, drawing him away from the other officers and allowing them to find better positions to disable 22-year-old Michael DeAndre Ford. But amid the chaos, Colson was hit, said Police Chief Hank Stawinksi, who called Colson’s actions heroic.

Investigators believe that the “round that led to Detective Colson’s death” came from another Prince George’s County officer responding to the active shooter.

Stawinski said that Colson, an undercover narcotics officer, was not wearing body armor and was dressed in civilian clothes. Investigators don’t yet know whether the other officers believed Colson might have been a suspect or whether Colson was caught in the crossfire. Investigators don’t yet know which officer fired the shot. Four officers in total fired rounds. Two others responded but didn’t fire any shots.

Meanwhile, Ford’s brothers Malik and Elijah Ford watched from the sidelines. At least one of them recorded their brother’s planned ambush, Stawinski said.

“This community needs to know that this was callously recorded and could have been prevented,” Stawinski said.

He called the brothers’ actions odd and frightening.

“I can’t offer you any rationale for that. I’m not certain at the end of this investigation we’ll be able to explain to you why people would do something like this.”

Investigators believe that the three brothers had discussed and knew what Michael Ford was planning when Malik and Elijah Ford drove him to the police station. And they did not expect their brother to survive.

Michael Ford was injured but was expected to recover. Colson died of his injuries at a hospital Sunday.

“They knew in advance, they had every opportunity to call 911. They had every opportunity to seek medical help. They did nothing,” said Stawinski, who veered between agitation and anger, his words cracking with emotion as he described the ordeal Monday afternoon while Colson’s parents looked on.

Michael Ford, who Stawinski said has a history of mental illness, was armed with a handgun and fired off several shots before reloading and continuing to fire. Investigators believe he fired at passing vehicles and even fired at random in order to attract attention from the police.

The three Ford brothers will be charged with second-degree murder, six counts of attempted first-degree murder, nine counts of use of a handgun in the commission of a felony and additional charges. Police expect the brothers will face additional charges related to the victims in the passing vehicles, police said.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch offered Department of Justice assistance to Prince George’s County as they investigate the shooting.

“The attack on the Prince George’s County Police Department last night was a heinous act of violence and a cowardly crime,” the statement read. “His tragic loss is a reminder of the threats that public safety officers face every day, and the dangers that they bravely confront, in every jurisdiction across the country.”

Colson is the fourth police officer in the region to be killed while on duty this year. Prince William County Officer Ashley Guindon was shot and killed late last month while responding to a domestic violence call on her first day on the job.

At a Harford County Panera, sheriff’s deputies Patrick Dailey and Mark Logsdon were shot and killed by a man wanted on several arrest warrants in February.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein and Dick Uliano contributed to this report from Landover.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

© 2016 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.