Posted on Jan 19, 2006
Civil Jury Awards $3.7 Million in Jones Case
By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 19, 2006; 3:36 PM
A civil jury today found a Prince George's County undercover narcotics police corporal responsible for the wrongful death of an unarmed college student the officer fatally shot more than five years ago. The jury awarded $3.7 million in damages to the young daughter and parents of the shooting victim.
After deliberating for about seven hours over two days, the jury of five women and one man in Prince George's Circuit Court reached a verdict Thursday morning in the highly-publicized Sept. 1, 2000, fatal shooting of Prince C. Jones, Jr., 25, by county police Cpl. Carlton B. Jones, (no relation), who is 37 now.
Pr. George's County: Year in Pictures, 2005
We remember in photos some of the routine and not-so-routine events of 2005 in the county.
The jury found that Carlton Jones was negligent and used excessive force. The jury rejected a claim that the officer was liable for battery of Prince Jones. The jury also found that Prince Jones contributed to his death by his actions during the fatal encounter.
The jury award is one of the highest for a police misconduct lawsuit in county history. Carlton Jones declined to comment, saying he'd been ordered by the police department to say nothing about the matter.
Carlton Jones fired all 16 rounds of his 9mm service gun at Prince Jones, hitting the Howard University student eight times. Five shots lodged in the student's back; three rounds hit a shoulder and an arm.
The night he was shot to death, Prince Jones was driving a Jeep Cherokee, the same type of vehicle driven by a drug dealer that Carlton Jones believed he was tailing, according to Jay Creech, a special counsel in the county attorney's office, who defended Jones and the county in the case.
After Prince Jones realized he was being followed, he confronted the corporal on a quiet residential street in Fairfax and rammed his Jeep backward into the officer's Mitsubishi Montero, Creech said. Carlton Jones fired because he feared for his life, and he had a right to defend himself, Creech said.
The shooting sent shock waves through the county's criminal justice system. The incident occurred during 13 months in which Prince George's police officers shot 12 people, killing five. Two other people died in county police custody then.
The Jones shooting prompted the Justice Department to begin a broad investigation into whether the county police department, accused of brutality for decades, engaged in a pattern of excessive force and racism. In January 2005, the county announced an agreement with the Justice Department in which the police department would try to reduce excessive force.