The jury deliberated for about three hours before convicting 25-year-old Michael Ford of second-degree murder in the March 2016 friendly-fire killing of Prince George’s County police Detective Jacai Colson, Prince George’s state’s attorney office spokesman John Erzen confirmed. Ford also was convicted of first-degree assault and weapons charges.
Erzen said Ford was found not guilty on six counts of attempted first-degree murder. With the other counts, Erzen said Ford faces up to 600 years in prison, with 65 of those on the handgun charges alone.
Ford testified Wednesday that he was trying to get himself killed by police when he fired his handgun nearly two dozen times outside the station and didn’t intend for anyone else to be harmed.
But a prosecutor argued Ford’s actions created a “combat zone” and caused Colson’s death even though he didn’t fire the fatal shot.
Colson exchanged gunfire with Ford before Officer Taylor Krauss shot the plainclothes narcotics detective, mistaking him for a threat. Krauss testified that he never saw Colson hold up a badge or heard him identify himself as a police officer before shooting him once in the chest.
County prosecutor Joseph Ruddy said Ford had gone on a “combat mission,” firing 23 shots from a handgun in nearly four minutes. He didn’t hit anyone, but bullets he fired struck two passing vehicles and an ambulance, according to Ruddy.
“That was no suicide mission. That was a mission to kill cops,” he said in the trial’s closing arguments.
Defense attorney Antoini Jones told jurors that Ford was wounded and had been “neutralized” on the ground before Krauss fired the shot that killed Colson.
Ford’s two younger brothers recorded cellphone videos of the ambush after dropping him off at the station in Landover, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
One of the videos shows Ford screaming obscenities and shouting, “Do something!” in between shots.
Ford, then 22, dictated his last will and testament on video minutes before his brothers dropped him off at the station.
A judge ruled before the trial that Ford couldn’t present an insanity defense despite his serious mental health issues.
Ford said he was hearing voices in his head on the day of the shooting. He said he retrieved a gun from a safe in his car and held it to his head.
“I couldn’t pull the trigger,” he said.
A police detective testified in 2016 that Ford’s brothers agreed to film the shooting so the video could be sent to WorldstarHipHop.com, a website known for posting users’ violent videos. Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks has said the cellphone videos were an attempt to gain fame.
Ford’s brothers, Malik and Elijah, pleaded guilty to charges related to the shooting and await sentencing hearings.
A grand jury declined to indict Krauss on any charges related to Colson’s shooting. Colson’s parents sued Krauss and Prince George’s County, accusing Krauss of recklessly firing his rifle.
Ford is black, and so was Colson; Krauss is white. Colson and Krauss had worked in the narcotics unit together and sat at connecting desks.
Jones, Ford’s attorney, told jurors that Colson didn’t match the gunman’s description apart from their race. At the start of the trial, Jones said the evidence will show the detective was shot “because he was black.”
Four officers, including Colson and Krauss, fired their weapons during the chaotic shootout on March 13, 2016, police said. Ford shot out the police station’s glass door before firing at and “barely” missing officers who responded, according to a police report.
Ford’s attorney asked him why he opened fire outside the police station.
“Because I wanted to die,” Ford said. “And I knew the police kill black men with no problem.”
Colson was a four-year veteran of the department and 28-year-old native of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania.