Pubdate: Wed, 25 Oct 2000
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2000 The Washington Post Company
Contact:  1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
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Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Authors: Fredrick Kunkle and Jamie Stockwell, Washington Post Staff Writers
Note: Staff writer Tom Jackman contributed to this report.
Related: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1600/a11.html

PROSECUTOR CHALLENGED ON SHOOTING

Attorneys for the family of Prince C. Jones Jr., the Hyattsville man killed 
by a Prince George's police officer who had followed him into Fairfax 
County, raised new questions yesterday about the Fairfax prosecutor's 
account of events that led to the fatal shooting.

"I think this is something they made up," attorney Ted J. Williams said of 
part of Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr.'s account of 
two earlier incidents in which police cars were rammed, allegedly by a Jeep 
similar to the one that Jones was driving the night he was killed.

More questions are being raised by students at Howard University, where 
Jones attended part time. Students, who have said Jones's killing has made 
them more wary of all police, plan another demonstration on campus today at 
noon to protest Horan's decision not to charge the officer with a crime.

Cpl. Robert Clark, spokesman for the Prince George's police, said yesterday 
that officials "are working on getting the information and specifics" about 
the two incidents that Horan referred to Monday when he announced his 
decision not to file charges against Cpl. Carlton B. Jones, a six-year 
member of the police force.

On Monday, police said that they didn't have the information available and 
that Horan's office was better suited to release the details of the two 
incidents, one in early June and one three weeks later, in which a Jeep 
Cherokee similar to Prince Jones's rammed into a marked police cruiser.

Horan's office declined to provide additional information yesterday. Horan 
said Monday only that the information came from his investigation.

Prince George's police said they had reason to believe that the vehicle 
involved in the early summer incidents, which bore Maryland license plates, 
was owned by a suspected drug dealer who was thought to have stolen a 
police gun from an officer's personal car. They said Carlton Jones was 
following Prince Jones's Jeep, which had a Pennsylvania tag, because it was 
believed to be the same vehicle.

Police refused yesterday to disclose any details about the two incidents, 
including what led to them, where and at what time they occurred and which 
officers were involved.

Williams asked why police didn't simply pull over Prince Jones's Jeep if 
they believed it was the same one that had rammed two police cars earlier.

"You've got two felony assaults on police officers. Why do you follow their 
vehicle to find out anything? Why don't you pull the vehicle over?" 
Williams said.

In announcing his decision not to charge Carlton Jones, Horan said he 
relied solely on the facts in determining that there was not enough 
evidence to bring charges. He said Carlton Jones acted in self-defense 
after Prince Jones rammed his Jeep into the officer's unmarked car. Carlton 
Jones fired 16 shots, striking Jones five times in the back and once in the 
back of his arm. The men are not related.

Some critics questioned whether other considerations played a role in 
Horan's decision.

Mark Thompson, chairman of the police task force for the D.C. chapter of 
the NAACP, said prosecutors, whether appointed by politicians or elected to 
office themselves, take into consideration the importance of law 
enforcement endorsements.

"It is not the practice of politicians to go against the police," Thompson 
said. "Police are above the law, and I think the Prince Jones case is 
clearly an example of that."

Robert L. Galantucci, a New Jersey lawyer who has handled several 
high-profile police cases in the New York area, said prosecutors file 
politically motivated charges all too often because of the outcry 
surrounding certain cases.

"They ought to start sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to 
politics and media attention and all that stuff," said Galantucci, who 
represents one of two New Jersey state troopers accused of shooting three 
young students in a case of alleged racial profiling.

Legal experts, civil rights leaders and critics inside and outside police 
departments said that deciding whether a police officer should face 
criminal scrutiny for shooting a civilian in the line of duty is one of a 
prosecutor's most difficult decisions.

"It's very difficult to second-guess them. They are tough cases to bring," 
said Peter Henning, a former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor who now 
teaches at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. "Some people may 
mistrust the police, but most people  especially in a middle-class jury  
are going to trust the police," Henning said.

"What goes into such a decision is complex, but includes factors such as 
the likelihood of securing a conviction," said Peter Arnella, a law 
professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Jack Levin, director of the Brudnick Center on Violence at Northeastern 
University, said that the precipitous drop in crime over the last decade 
has bolstered police credibility for some members of the public, 
particularly among middle-class residents untouched by crime or police 
activity.

"The police officer is seen as the hero  whether they deserve it or not," 
Levin said.

Staff writer Tom Jackman contributed to this report.
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