- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Fairfax County's chief prosecutor will not file charges against a Prince George's County detective who shot and killed an unarmed Hyattsville man last month during an undercover operation.

Cpl. Carlton Jones fired 16 shots at Prince C. Jones on Sept. 1, striking him in the back six times and killing him. The two are not related.

"There is no sufficient evidence to charge Cpl. Carlton Jones with a crime," Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said yesterday.

Mr. Horan said the shooting amounted to justifiable homicide because Mr. Jones rammed the officer's car and the officer legitimately feared for his safety.

"[Cpl. Jones and his supervisor] were not seeking any confrontation and were not seeking to arrest anyone," Mr. Horan said at a news conference. "They were conducting the surveillance of a vehicle which they believed to be involved in a vehicular assault on a police vehicle in late June."

The officer was following Mr. Jones, 25, because he believed Mr. Jones was one of two suspected drug dealers who had been wanted in a vehicular assaults on two police officers during two separate traffic stops over the summer.

Mr. Horan said that since June, Prince George's police had been trying to arrest the driver of a black Jeep Cherokee who later was identified as a suspected drug dealer wanted in the traffic incidents.

On Sept. 1, Cpl. Jones and his supervisor, who was not identified, spotted the Jeep they believed belonged to one of the suspects in the District after 1 a.m. They lost it in traffic but found it an hour later in Hyattsville, near a location that was known to be frequented by both suspects.

Cpl. Jones' supervisor followed the Jeep from Hyattsville into the District. When the driver entered Virginia, Cpl. Jones followed until the Jeep stopped at Beechwood Lane and Spring Terrace in Fairfax County.

When Cpl. Jones stopped at the intersection, he saw to his left what he believed to be a black Cherokee. He turned left past the vehicle when he saw it pull out and head in the opposite direction.

Cpl. Jones backed up to turn around, and while he was perpendicular to the street, the Jeep backed up right next to the driver's side door. Mr. Jones got out of his vehicle, and walked toward Cpl. Jones, who then grabbed his weapon, pointed it at Mr. Jones, twice identified himself as a police officer, and ordered Mr. Jones back into the Jeep.

Without saying a word, Mr. Jones followed the orders, but instead of remaining there or driving away, he pulled forward, put the vehicle in reverse and rammed the driver's side of Cpl. Jones vehicle. He then pulled forward a farther distance and, with tires screeching, he again rammed Cpl. Jones' vehicle.

Cpl. Jones fired his weapon through the back window of Mr. Jones' vehicle, striking him several times.

Mr. Horan said, as it turned out, Mr. Jones was not the suspect police were seeking.

"It is clear from the evidence that Cpl. Jones and Prince Jones did not know one another," Mr. Horan said. "Prince Jones was not the man for whom they were looking, and Prince Jones was not a suspect in the vehicular assaults on Prince George's police officers."

Mr. Horan said such surveillance operations are commonplace and acceptable police procedure, and why Mr. Jones rammed Cpl. Jones' vehicle will remain a mystery.

Cpl. Jones remains on administrative leave pending an internal affairs division investigation of the shooting. An FBI investigation is also pending.

The lawyers for Prince Jones' family said yesterday they were upset by the decision not to bring charges, and called Mr. Jones' death "legitimized murder."

"It's a sad day in the Washington area. It's a sad day in America," said Ted J. Williams, one of the attorneys for the family.

The lawyers argued the shooting was not justifiable homicide because the officer caused the situation and could have taken steps to prevent Mr. Jones' death.

Gregory L. Lattimer, an attorney for the family, cited a 1985 Virginia Supreme Court decision in support of their position.

"If a defendant is even slightly at fault, the killing is not justifiable homicide," Mr. Lattimer read from the decision.

Both lawyers said they were upset over the lack of cooperation they had from Mr. Horan.

Mr. Williams said they are considering a civil suit and are watching to see whether the FBI files a federal criminal civil rights complaint in the case.

Mabel S. Jones, Prince Jones' mother, was "very distraught and very upset" about the decision, Mr. Williams said.

"We are not going to allow Prince Jones to die in vain," Mr. Williams said.

• Derek Simmonsen contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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