Man sentenced to nearly 200 years in police station shooting that left Maryland undercover officer dead

The Washington Post

A Maryland man convicted of murder for launching an attack on a police station that left an undercover narcotics detective dead was sentenced to about 200 years in prison Thursday.

The sentencing of Michael Deandre Ford, 25, comes almost three years after he engaged Prince George's County police in a shooting that fatally wounded officer Jacai Colson, 28.

Although Colson was killed by a fellow officer who mistook him as the gunman firing at the station, a Prince George's County grand jury convicted Ford in November of second-degree murder for creating the conditions that led to the deadly shooting.

Two of Ford's younger brothers who drove him to the police station in Palmer Park, Maryland, and recorded the shooting also were sentenced in Prince George's County Circuit Court Thursday. Elijah Ford, 21, was sentenced to 12 years after earlier pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Malik Ford, 24, was sentenced 20 years for attempted second-degree murder, use of a handgun in commission of a felony and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

In addition to murder, Michael Ford was found guilty of 30 counts of assault and weapons charges after an eight-day trial.

Prosecutors argued Michael Ford "created a combat zone" outside the station that ultimately resulted in Colson's killing on March 13, 2016. They said Ford was seeking infamy and had instructed his brothers to post video of the shooting on a viral video website.

But Michael Ford testified that he wasn't trying to hurt anyone but himself. He told the jury he was suffering from suicidal thoughts the morning of the shooting and fired at the station to draw gunfire from law enforcement and die at police hands.

Michael Ford had recorded what he said were his last words before heading to the police station in his red Honda Accord with Elijah and Malik. Video aired at trial showed that once Michael Ford was outside the station, he fired at the doors of the building, passing cars, officers responding to the scene and at an ambulance.

Colson arrived at the scene moments into the shooting, according to trial testimony.

The undercover drug officer in street clothes had been heading into work for an overtime shift and immediately began to engage Michael Ford in a gun battle. The gunfire exchanged between Ford and Colson allowed other officers to get into position to take down Ford, police and prosecutors said.

But shortly after coming on scene, Colson collapsed to the ground.

Officer Taylor Krauss, who testified he believed the plainclothes detective was the gunman ambushing the police station, fired a single fatal shot at Colson.

"Had I known it was a police officer, I never would have taken a shot," testified Krauss, who was cleared by a grand jury in Colson's shooting.

Krauss testified he heard a description of the gunman assailing the police station - a "Number 1 male," or police vernacular for a male African American. Krauss said he shot at Colson because he matched the suspect description.

Colson's family has a pending civil suit against the county and Krauss.

The lawsuit asserts Colson had his badge in hand and was yelling "Police!" when he was shot. The lawsuit also says Colson did not match the description of the gunman attacking the police station.

Calls to 911 about the shooting described a heavyset black man with dreadlocks and in a black jacket, the lawsuit states, but Colson had an athletic build and wore a short Afro and beard.

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