A Baltimore Police officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 15-year-old stepson, whose body was found hidden in the family’s Anne Arundel County home last week.
In documents charging Eric Banks Jr., 34, police wrote that Dasan Jones’ death was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation, with injuries also noted on his neck, face and mouth. They also said they found wet clothing that smelled of bleach and was stained with what police believed to be blood.
Banks has been in custody since July 6, after county police said Banks tried to disarm an officer after the discovery of Dasan’s body.
When police detained him, Banks asked to say goodbye to his other children and reached for an officer’s gun, saying the officer was “gonna have to end this.” Prosecutors said Banks made “homicidal and suicidal” comments following his arrest.
Banks’ attorney, Warren Brown, told The Sun that Banks asserted that he found Dasan dead in a bathtub and that he believed the boy committed suicide.
“I understand circumstantially it looks bad…,” Brown said Wednesday. “But, I’m looking to understand how he was asphyxiated.”
Banks’ wife — Dasan’s mother — had applied for two protective orders against Banks in recent weeks, saying he was stalking her. The first was denied by a judge; the second was obtained only hours before Dasan was found dead.
Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal Awad called the case “absolutely heartbreaking, traumatic and horrific.” She praised the work of officers on the scene for being diligent in trying to locate Dasan.
“At any moment they could have accepted an answer they were given and walked away,” she said. “They did not. They kept asking questions.”
An arrest warrant charging Banks with first- and second-degree murder, as well as child abuse resulting in death, was issued Tuesday. They described the case as “very active.”
Banks has served as a Baltimore Police officer for about three years but was suspended at the time of the discovery of Dasan’s body. Prior to becoming a police officer, he spent 11 years with the Marines, spending his final years as a recruiter after three overseas deployments.
A memorial was held Monday in Glen Burnie for Dasan, who had just completed his freshman year and was described as well-liked and quiet. He played the violin, was an avid gamer, and enrolled in a nursing magnet program at Glen Burnie High School. According to an obituary, he wanted to attend college and become a surgeon.
Dasan’s death and Banks’ arrest came after two months of domestic violence complaints between Banks and his wife, Dasan’s mother. She told police Banks was “becoming increasingly erratic.” Brown, Banks’ attorney, said that the officer tried to kill himself a day before Dasan’s body was found.
In May, Banks filed for a protective order from his wife, accusing her of threatening him and making false complaints about him. He withdrew that petition two days after filing it.
His wife then filed for a protective order in late June, saying he was stalking her, which a judge denied. She filed for another protective order on the afternoon of July 6 — just hours before Dasan was found dead. In that order, she said that Banks had taken Dasan’s phone and was texting her from it, including saying that he had observed her outside of a hotel where she was staying.
Online court records say the temporary protective order was granted at a hearing at 3 p.m.
In the new charging documents, Banks’ wife said she called Dasan at about 3:50 p.m. and asked him to meet her a short distance from the home, in the 1400 block of Stoney Point Way, so she could pick him up.
“After her son failed to meet her within a reasonable amount of time, Ms. Banks called police believing something was out of the ordinary,” police wrote in charging documents.
Officers arrived around 5 p.m. and Banks told them the boy had just run from the back door. Officers searched the area and could not find him, and returned to home, where police say Banks consented to a search.
Officers found Dasan’s body in a small storage area in an upstairs wall, where Banks said a gun safe was kept. It was covered over. Both Dasan’s and Banks’ clothing were wet, police said.
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In the new charging documents, police wrote that Banks said, “My life is over,” and begged an officer detaining him to “choke me,” before going for the officer’s handgun.
Awad, the county police chief, said she viewed body camera footage from the scene and praised her officers’ diligence in trying to locate Dasan, as well as their restraint when Banks went for an officer’s gun. She visited the scene the night of the incident and said officers were shaken up.
Banks agreed to speak with detectives after being taken into custody, and said he found Dasan’s body and carried him to the loft area and hid it.
“Mr. Banks denied harming Dasan Jones and claimed not to know what caused his death. Mr. Banks could not provide a reasonable explanation for hiding the victim’s body,” police said.
The reason for Banks’ suspension from the Baltimore Police Department has not been released.
“The alleged actions of Officer Banks are not only deplorable, but shocking to the conscience,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said in a statement. “Our department will continue to work closely with the Anne Arundel County Police Department during this ongoing investigation.”
Beyond the protective orders filed in court, county police said there had been prior police calls to the home.