WASHINGTON — The family of an undercover detective killed by a fellow officer during an ambush in Prince George’s County, Maryland, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit, saying he died trying to identify himself as police during the shootout.
The family is seeking an unspecified amount “greater than $75,000” in damages and is requesting a jury trial.
Detective Jacai Colson was killed on March 13, 2016, by fellow officer Taylor Krauss after prosecutors say 24-year-old Michael Ford opened fire in front of the Prince George’s County police station in Landover, Maryland, prompting officers to return fire.
A Prince George’s County grand jury declined to return an indictment against Krauss in July 2016, clearing him of any wrongdoing.
Krauss and Prince George’s County are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit asserts that Krauss fired his assault rifle from two different locations through a wooden privacy fence at 35 and 95 yards away despite visual obstructions.
It states that the county knew or should have known that Krauss was “unfit for his duties” and that it was Krauss’s “intentional and reckless conduct” that led him to shoot and kill Colson.
The lawsuit asserts that the description of the shooter was broadcast over the police radio before the shootout as a heavy-set black man with dreadlocks, which the complaint contends does not fit the description of Colson.
After the broadcast, Krauss exited the police station and went to a patrol car, retrieving an assault rifle, the lawsuit says.
Colson survived a gun battle with Ford and retreated toward the Palmer Park Community Center, the complaint asserts, when two additional officers from the Prince George’s Police Department approached, disarmed and subdued Ford.
The detective was then heard shouting “police, police” with his badge in hand before he was fatally shot by Krauss in the left side of his chest, the lawsuit asserts.
Krauss shot Colson from approximately 95 yards away, according to the lawsuit.
Colson’s badge was found lying between his left shoulder and his left hand, the plaintiffs contend.
Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure do not allow plaintiffs to request a specific amount greater than $75,000 when filing a circuit court complaint.
Ford has been charged with murder, attempted murder and related charges and is currently awaiting trial.
In October, Ford’s brothers Malik and Elijah pleaded guilty to charges related to the attack. Prosecutors said that the brothers were at the scene videotaping and encouraging their brother to shoot at the officers.