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Judge allows case against 3 brothers in police station shooting to proceed

Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks and Police Chief Hank Stawinski speak after a judge allowed the prosecution of three brothers for their roles in the ambush of a county police station to proceed on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. The shooting spree led to the death of Det. Jacai Colson. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — A judge has found probable cause to charge three brothers with second-degree murder for their roles in the ambush of a Prince George’s County police station that led to the death of an undercover narcotics detective.

The judge’s determination differs from an earlier decision by a court commissioner who found that there was not sufficient probable cause to charge two of the brothers, Malik and Elijah Ford, with second-degree murder and several other charges. That commissioner’s ruling was limited to whether bond should be set. Wednesday’s ruling reinstates the original charges.

State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said that the ruling allows her office to proceed with its prosecution and she plans to take the case before a grand jury.

Individuals who assist or participate in a crime can be held criminally liable even if they were not the person who fired the fatal shot, Alsobrooks said to explain her rationale for the murder charges and for charging all three brothers.

Malik, 21, Elijah, 18, and Michael, 22, Ford was each initially charged with second-degree murder, six counts of attempted first-degree murder, and nine counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony and other charges.

In court, lawyers for the brothers argued that Michael Ford had no intent of shooting a police officer, and that he didn’t hit a single officer in the 24 shots he fired that day in March.

The lawyers also said Michael Ford wanted to draw the officers’ fire, and that he knew he’d likely be killed by police.

Elijah and Malik Ford drove their brother to the District III police station in Landover and knew their brother’s plans. The two men then stood on the sidelines and videotaped the ambush, police have said.

Michael Ford wanted notoriety, Alsobrooks said.

He wanted the smartphone video his brothers took of the shooting sent to the WorldStar Hip Hop entertainment website, a detective testified in court.

That detective also named the officer who fired the shot that killed Det. Jacai Colson, the first time Officer Taylor Krauss’ name has been made public.

Krauss and his family knew that his name would be revealed in court, said Police Chief Hank Stawinski.

Colson was killed by a rifle shot, and Krauss was the only officer on the scene of the shooting with a rifle, based on forensic analysis of the crime scene. The other officers were carrying handguns, Stawinski said.

Krauss perceived Colson, who was dressed in civilian clothes, as a threat throughout the ordeal, he said.

Krauss remains on administrative leave amid an internal departmental review into the officer-involved shooting.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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