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No insanity defense for suspect in Maryland police station attack that left officer dead

The Washington Post

The man accused in a 2016 attack on a Prince George’s County police station that led to the friendly-fire killing of an undercover narcotics officer has serious mental-health issues, but they do not qualify him to pursue an insanity defense at trial, a judge ruled Thursday.

Doctors had assessed Michael Deandre Ford, 25, but determined that his mental-health challenges stemming from childhood don’t rise to a possible legal finding of “not criminally responsible,” his attorney, Antoini M. Jones, said in a hearing Thursday.

Ford — charged with murder, attempted murder, assault and related counts in the death of Officer Jacai Colson — was deemed competent last year to stand trial. This week’s hearing dealt with whether he could mount an insanity defense in the trial, scheduled to begin Oct. 22.

Ford’s case stems from the March 13, 2016, shooting outside a police station in Palmer Park, Md. Ford fired shots into the entrance of the police station while his brothers filmed the attack with plans to post the video on WorldstarHipHop, prosecutors said.

The shooting drew dozens of officers to the area, including Colson, an undercover narcotics detective. Colson, 28, responded to the scene in street clothes and was fatally shot by another officer who mistook him for a threat.

Though Prince George’s County Officer Taylor Krauss fired the shot that killed Colson, prosecutors are pursuing murder charges against Ford, alleging that he created a “danger zone” that caused the fatal shooting.

Ford’s younger brothers — Malik, 24, and Elijah, 21 — have been convicted in the case. Elijah Ford pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. ­Malik Ford pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder, use of a handgun in commission of a felony and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Malik and Elijah Ford had driven their brother to the police station and recorded the shooting while discussing how Michael’s car and belongings would be divided if he were killed during the attack, prosecutors said.

Ford’s family in the past has said Ford suffers from bipolar disorder, and his attorney has said his client had planned to “commit suicide by cop.”

“There’s a host of mental-health challenges,” Jones said.

Colson’s family was at Thursday’s hearing when Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Lawrence V. Hill ruled. Colson’s mother kept a framed photo of her son in his police uniform with her in court, and a blue-and-black bracelet inscribed with her son’s name and badge number circled her wrist.

The Colson family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Krauss and Prince George’s County.

The lawsuit contends that Colson had his badge in his hand and shouted “Police! Police!” before he was killed. The lawsuit also asserts that Colson did not match the description of the man shooting at the police station and that Krauss should not have fired with his view obstructed by a fence.

Thousands attended Colson’s funeral, where he was remembered as a hero for drawing the gunman away from the police station so that other officers could get in position to respond to the shooting.

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