Landover, MD – The family of an undercover detective who was fatally shot by a fellow officer as they both responded to an ambush outside the Prince George’s County Police headquarters in 2016 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the officer involved.
The family asserted that Prince George’s County Police Officer Taylor Krauss showed a “reckless disregard for human life,” when he repeatedly fired his weapon at 28-year-old Detective Jacai Colson, The Washington Post reported.
The family further alleged that Prince George’s County officials were aware or should have been aware that Officer Krauss was “unfit for his duties,” and claimed that he killed Det. Colson due to his “intentional and reckless conduct,” WTOP reported.
The lawsuit requested compensation for an unspecified amount “greater than $75,000.”
The incident occurred on Mar. 13, 2016, after 24-year-old Michael Ford began shooting at the entryway doors of the Prince George’s County police headquarters building while his younger brothers, Malik Ford and Elijah Ford, recorded the mayhem on their cell phones, The Washington Post reported.
Det. Colson and Officer Krauss were among the swarm of police who flooded the area as Michael fired indiscriminately at vehicles and law enforcement officers.
Det. Colson, who was off-duty and dressed in street clothes, fired 11 rounds at the gunman, then ran down the street towards a community center to get to safety while his fellow officers took Michael into custody, The Washington Post reported.
Officer Krauss mistakenly believed that Det. Colson, who was wearing street clothes, was one of the shooters and fired at him twice from behind a wooden fence, in order to protect another officer who pulled up to the scene in a marked patrol vehicle.
The officer then fired a third round at the detective from behind a wall, fatally hitting him.
According to the lawsuit, Det. Colson identified himself as an officer over the police radio in the moments before he was killed.
“Detective Colson’s badge was found laying between his left shoulder and left hand,” the lawsuit noted.
The detective’s family argued that Det. Colson did not fit the description of the shooter, and that Officer Krauss should have recognized the plain clothes detective because they worked together, The Washington Post reported.
“Complete accountability means holding Officer Taylor Krauss responsible for recklessly firing his weapon under circumstances where no reasonable officer would have fired,” the family said in a statement through their attorney, Jason G. Downs. “Indeed, no other officer fired at Detective Colson, underscoring the reckless and senseless nature of Officer Krauss’ actions.”
Over the course of seven weeks, a grand jury studied the evidence collected from the scene, traveled to the location of the shooting, and confronted issues involving racial bias, The Washington Post reported.
“Those were all things that the grand jury had a full opportunity to discuss and ask questions about,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said. “We also explored all of that with them and what the relationships were between all the officers.”
The grand jury ultimately declined to indict Officer Krauss on charges of murder or manslaughter.
He has now been with the department for approximately eight years.
“It’s just one of those things where any blame we put on anybody goes toward the three brothers that got locked up,” one of Det. Colson’s supervisors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his identity for undercover work, told The Washington Post shortly after the detective’s death. “The whole situation doesn’t happen if they didn’t do what they did. It was an intentional act by them that caused Jacai’s death.”
On Oct. 10, 2017, Malik pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and use of a handgun in commission of a felony, The Washington Post reported.
Elijah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder on the same date.
Michael was arrested on “dozens” of charges, including gun offenses and second-degree murder, The Seattle Times reported.
His trial is expected to begin in October.