Pubdate: Sun, 03 Sep 2000
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2000 The Washington Post Company
Contact:  1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
Author: Tom Jackman and Jamie Stockwell
Note: Staff writers Patricia Davis, Brigid Schulte, Ian Shapira, Neely Tucker, Emily Wax and Craig Whitlock and staff  researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.


Angered by reports of yet another shooting by a Prince George's County police officer, community activists yesterday called on police to explain why one of their undercover detectives tailed a Hyattsville man into Fairfax County early Friday and then killed the apparently unarmed driver.

Prince George's County authorities identified the detective yesterday as Carlton B. Jones, 26, a six-year member of the force. Assigned to the Hyattsville station as an undercover narcotics investigator, Jones began following a black Jeep Cherokee driven by Prince C. Jones, 25, about 2 a.m. Friday. The men were not related.

Beyond identifying Carlton Jones, Prince George's police declined to comment on the shooting yesterday. Requests to speak to Police Chief John S. Farrell were denied. Neither County Executive Wayne K. Curry nor his spokesman returned phone calls.

"I'm real concerned that no one has told me anything about what happened," said Joyce Beck, co-chairman of Farrell's Citizen's Advisory Committee, a community group that consults with the chief on controversies involving the police. "My question is, what was Prince George's doing in Fairfax, shooting? This is all wrong," Beck said. "And it's all bad, and it seems that's the consistency of the Prince George's police these days."

Edythe Flemings Hall, president of the county's NAACP chapter, said she would reserve judgment on the shooting until police gave a fuller account, but she called the incident "disturbing." Both the officer and the victim are African American.

The criminal investigation into what happened on Beechwood Lane near Seven Corners about 3 a.m. Friday is being handled by Fairfax County police. Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said yesterday that it was too early to comment on the investigation, noting that lab tests on forensic evidence at the scene could take more than 10 days to complete.

"As I understand it, the police have the officer's version of how it happened and why it happened," Horan said. "Now we'll see [if] the physical facts line up with that. We're certainly going to be looking at paint, glass bullet holes, angle of entry, things like that."

Horan said the case is being handled like any other fatal shooting. "There is no different standard of evidence because it's a police shooting," he said.

When the investigation is completed, Horan said, he will discuss the results with Fairfax detectives to determine whether charges are warranted.

Detective Jones has been placed on leave, with pay, pending the results of the Fairfax investigation and an internal police probe in Prince George's.

Howard S. Chasanow, a retired Maryland Court of Appeals judge and co-chairman of a task force appointed by Curry to look into police behavior, said it is hard for police officers to reassure the public after a shooting because they cannot divulge many details of what happened.

"There certainly is a major public relations issue here," he said. "But they need to investigate the incident. And particularly with pending criminal charges, they need to be careful about what they disclose."

Detective Jones was driving an unmarked Mitsubishi Montero sport-utility vehicle when he followed Prince Jones from the Chillum Park area through the District and into Northern Virginia, Prince George's County police said Friday. But they have not explained why Prince Jones, a physical trainer whose fiancee and child live in Fairfax near where he was killed, was being followed.

Ted J. Williams, a family friend, said a Fairfax detective told him that Prince Jones drove his black Jeep Cherokee onto a side street off Route 50 and backed into a driveway, turning off the vehicle's lights. The unmarked police car passed, turned around and approached from the other direction.

According to a law enforcement source, Detective Jones told investigators that Prince Jones got out of his Jeep and approached the detective, who says he identified himself as a police officer. Prince Jones returned to the Jeep, the detective said, and began ramming the driver's side of the unmarked Montero.

Detective Jones then opened fire. Williams said he was told by a doctor at Inova Fairfax Hospital that Prince Jones had been shot nine times, but police have not confirmed that.

Prince George's County police policy says that firearms may be discharged at a moving vehicle only when its occupant is using or threatening deadly force by a means other than the vehicle.

Chasanow said Jones's shooting--the 12th time that Prince George's County police have shot someone in the past 13 months--underscores the importance of the task force's mission to scrutinize how well Prince George's County officers are trained. "We are going to examine all aspects of the training, especially the use of force," he said yesterday. "The public needs to have confidence in that."

Asked whether Detective Jones, who was accompanied by a supervisor before they became separated somewhere in Virginia, should have alerted Fairfax police when he entered the county, Horan said: "If they were simply doing an investigation, they wouldn't necessarily. . . . I don't think that's unusual."

Candace Jackson, 22, Prince Jones's fiancee and the mother of their 10-month-old daughter, yesterday rebutted the detective's claim that Jones knew he was dealing with police. "Prince was scared to death of cops in general," she said, "especially in Fairfax County, after the two incidents."

The reference was to two misdemeanor assault charges that Jackson filed against Prince Jones after arguments on two occasions last year. Jackson said she contributed to the fights, hitting Jones as well. Both charges where dismissed, and Prince Jones's pastor said he had been counseling Jones in recent months to control his temper.

While Prince Jones's family was calling for an FBI investigation of the incident, Carlton Jones was maintaining a low profile. A man who answered the door at the detective's home in Clinton yesterday afternoon declined to give his name or to speak with a reporter.

Court records show that Carlton Jones was named as a defendant in a federal civil lawsuit filed by a county resident in June. In his $3 million police brutality complaint, John R. Johnson alleges that Jones targeted, harassed and arrested him in April 1997.

William Hale, Johnson's attorney, said his client was jailed on charges of theft of a handgun, possession of a firearm, reckless endangerment and destruction of a window. The charges were later dismissed, Hale said.

In 1998, Johnson filed a complaint against Detective Jones to the police administrative hearing board, according to the lawsuit. The board later found Jones guilty, the lawsuit said, although details were unclear.

Police declined to comment on the case. Johnson has an extensive criminal history in Prince George's, with charges that include assault with intent to murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, trespassing, transportation of a handgun, possession of a controlled dangerous substance and disorderly conduct. Police would not comment on the case yesterday.

Court records also show that two days before Prince Jones was killed, the wife of Detective Jones filed for divorce. It was the second time she has done so, but it was unclear from the court record whether her earlier filing, in March 1995, actually resulted in a divorce or whether the couple just separated.

Since April, U.S. Justice Department officials have been considering whether to open an investigation of the Prince George's County police force to determine whether it has a pattern of civil rights violations. The FBI is also looking into more than a dozen cases in which people were killed or injured during confrontations with county police.

Beck, a leader of the police chief's advisory committee, fears that the truth will not be known for some time. "They don't want to talk about the truth, about what really happened. They just want to justify what they did. They'll say it's being investigated, and the investigation won't conclude for so long, when it ever does."

Said Hall, of the NAACP: "We have a very alert community, from the highest level down to the average citizen, looking to see if our police department is acting in accordance with the law. Everything is under the microscope now. We've got a thousand eyes on the process."

Although police would not say whether Prince Jones had a gun or whether he fired one if he did, Williams, the family friend, said there was "absolutely no way whatsoever that there was a gun in the picture." He said Fairfax officers told him so "unequivocally."

Williams and other friends described Prince Jones as a sincere person who was into perfecting his body and soul, having become deeply religious of late. He was said to be close to his mother, who lives in Philadelphia, and his sister, a second-year student at the University of Pennsylvania who plays varsity basketball.

"This kid was a health fanatic who drank shakes and worked out all day and spent time with his daughter," Williams said. "There was nothing that would even be in his psyche that would allow him to do something wrong."

Friends and family gathered yesterday to talk about what might have happened Friday morning.

"Did he believe someone was trying to commit a criminal act against him? How long did this person follow him? How scared did he feel? These are all questions we have," Williams said, adding that family members keep picturing Prince Jones headed down the highway with a car following him at every twist and turn.

"If it was a marked police car, then he might have felt some semblance of security," Williams said. "But there was no identification, nothing at all to tell Prince that this was a cop following him."

Jackson said Prince Jones proposed to her last month, after six years of dating. A student at Howard University, he planned to enlist in the Navy in January and hoped to attend medical school or become a diplomat, she said.

"He wanted to find his niche in the world, because he wasn't money oriented," Jackson said. "He was my soul mate."
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