Family of slain officer Jacai Colson settles with Prince George’s County

Sheila and Jim Colson, the parents of Jacai Colson, at the announcement of a settlement with Prince George’s County. (WTOP/John Domen)

The family of Jacai Colson, a Prince George’s County police officer gunned down by another cop six years ago, said on Wednesday that the county has settled a civil lawsuit in the matter.

But at a press conference held at the very spot where Colson was shot and killed in March 2016, it was clear that neither time, nor money had soothed hard feelings.

Prince George’s County police officer Jacai Colson. (Courtesy Prince George’s County police)

The settlement means Prince George’s County will pay out $400,000 to Jim and Sheila Colson, Jacai’s parents — the maximum allowed under the law. But as they spoke, it was clear they’re still frustrated that the cop who killed their son, now retired-officer Taylor Krauss, was never criminally charged in the case.

“This is hard,” said Sheila Colson. “I will never, never get over. The pain will always be there.”

Jacai Colson, who responded in plain clothes to a March 2016 ambush at a Landover, Maryland, police station, was fatally shot by Krauss, who said he didn’t recognize his fellow officer and perceived him as a threat.

The Colsons again criticized prosecutors for failing to get an indictment of Krauss from a grand jury, alleging that they were misled and claiming there was a reluctance to go after other police officers because of both politics and race.

Krauss is white, while Colson was what his parents’ lawyer, Malcom Ruff, described as “a strong Black man.” The state’s attorney at the time — Angela Alsobrooks, who is now county executive — is Black, while the then-police chief, Hank Stawinski, is white.

Jim Colson claimed that “a prosecutor can get an indictment at any time they want,” depending on “how they steer the case and how they present the evidence.” He blasted some of the top assistant state’s attorney’s in Alsobrooks’ office at the time, specifically accusing one of them of bias.

“The Colson family won’t accept that. Won’t accept it,” said Jim Colson.

‘Every shred of evidence’

In a phone interview after the press conference, Alsobrooks disputed the way the investigation was characterized.

“I went over every shred of evidence, answered every single question they had,” Alsobrooks told WTOP, saying she personally went over the investigation with the Colson family during eight hours of meetings. “I’ve never heard anyone say the office was an office that operated without integrity during the time I was state’s attorney.”

Alsobrooks also pointed out that she created the Special Prosecutions Unit, which investigates police misconduct, and that the same grand jury process that returned no charges against Krauss also led to the indictment of officers charged with other crimes over the years. In this case, she told WTOP, the evidence wasn’t there.

“My heart continues to go out to them. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” she said. “I totally understand that. I get it.”

Later, Gina Ford, a spokeswoman for Alsobrooks, released a statement that read in part, “This was certainly an incident that was painful to the Colson family and members of the Prince George’s County Police Department. While the County has disputed many of the allegations in this lawsuit, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family members and friends of Corporal Jacai Colson.”

In the meantime, the Colson family suggested they haven’t given up hope that Krauss will eventually face criminal charges in the case, but wouldn’t go into detail about how they would push that to happen.

Theoretically the case could still be presented to a new panel, and if an indictment was secured, he could be charged criminally in the case.

“The egregious aspect of this case was the utter, sheer recklessness that occurred in this spot right here,” Ruff said. “With Officer Taylor Krauss shooting an upstanding, outstanding detective from 100 yards away with no clear indication of why he would do something of that nature. With no attempt to mitigate his duty — to only shoot at suspects that he believed were committing a crime — when there were numerous other officers, all of them, focusing their attention on the actual threat, the only perceivable threat.

“To shoot Jacai Colson, and the person that he was, with such recklessness, with such gross negligence, with such an indifference to the consequences to his life that mattered. That is the most egregious part of this case,” said Ruff.

Asked whether he believed race was a factor in Colson’s killing, Ruff, said “that goes without saying.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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