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Death by Friendly Fire?: Parents of Prince George’s County Police Detective Killed By Fellow Officer During Active Shooting Settle Lawsuit; Call Incident ‘Reckless, Careless’

The family of a Maryland police detective killed by another officer, has settled a lawsuit against the county he once served. The family says they filed the lawsuit to get answers from officials because they were “not forthright with the evidence” about their loved one’s death.

On Wednesday, May 11, Detective Jacai Colson’s parents settled a civil lawsuit filed against Prince George’s County and Officer Taylor Krauss for $400,000 after the officer shot and killed him in 2016. The payout is the largest amount permitted by the state for such an incident.

Death by Friendly Fire?: Parents of Prince George's County Police Detective Killed By Fellow Officer During Active Shooting Settle Lawsuit; Call Incident 'Reckless, Careless'
Officer Jacai Colson (left) was shot by officer Taylor Kraus during an active shooting incident. Wusa9 Screengrab

The detective’s mother, Sheila Colson, said at a new conference she had been waiting for closure for her son’s death for the last six years. 

“March 13, 2016, will be embedded in my heart for the rest of my life — until I get to see our son again,” the bereaved mother said.

“This county was not forthright with the evidence, telling us, showing us what really happened, making my son’s death that much harder. No amount of money, no amount of money is worth the life of my son — especially after he was a hero who saved his community.”

Lawsuit documents obtained by Atlanta Black Star revealed that Detective Colson, an undercover officer, was in plainclothes when he responded to reports of an attack at the District III police station at 7600 Barlowe Road, Palmer Park, Maryland.

Michael Ford, a Black man, was on a suicide mission and decided to open fire on the station. His brother, who drove him to the station, videotaped the bizarre incident, while another person sat in the car with him and watched.

A witness called 911 and described Ford as a “heavy-set Black male wearing an all-black jacket.” The person also said the shooter had dreadlocks and that was communicated over the police radio.

Upon approaching the scene of the crime, Colson exchanged fire with Ford, disarming him so that officers could arrest him. 

Near or around the same time, Officer Taylor Krauss of the Special Operations Division picked up his assault rifle and exited the police station on the mission to find the shooter. Krauss heard over the police radio the person shooting was a Black male and was located by the transport van. 

Krauss claims he could not see the suspect at first and repositioned himself to a different location to get a better view.

The cop approached Barlowe Road and saw a Black male shooting toward the direction of the station. Officer Krauss said he “locked down” on the man and fired his rifle three times before mistakenly shooting and killing Detective Colson, whom he misidentified as the assailant.

He shot him on the left side of his chest, right below his nipple.

Detective Colson was not heavyset, but 5 feet 9 and 156 pounds. He also did not have dreadlocks; he had a low-cut afro and beard.

After he was shot, Officer Mirian Perez, Colson’s girlfriend, and the reason he was close to the precinct, tried to no avail to revive him. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after the shooting.

The parents called their son’s death “reckless” and “careless,” stating in their lawsuit, they were originally told their son was killed during the gunplay to subdue the suspect.

That was not the truth.

Another reason the family was suspicious about the original story was that Colson, who joined the force in 2012, was promoted to serve in the Narcotics Enforcement Department (NED) of the Prince George County Police Department two years after receiving his badge.

Krauss, the officer responsible for his death, also worked in NED, the lawsuit revealed, “assigned to the same building, same floor, and sat at desks that connected to each other.”

Detective Colson, also before getting gunned down by his fellow officer, identified himself by saying “police, police.” Videos of the altercation capture his cry on their audio.

The family’s lawyer Malcolm Ruff believes race played a part in the officer’s death.

“Jacai Colson was a Black man. Taylor Krauss is a white officer. The shooters in this case, and by shooters I’m talking about the Ford brothers, and Michael Ford, were Black,” Ruff explained.

“The only justification that could be provided is that Taylor Krauss thought that Jacai Colson was somehow involved in this shooting. So, if you want to know if this case is about race, it is. There’s no way to separate race out of this case.”

A grand jury failed to indict Krauss for Detective Colson’s death. He said he thought Colson was the active shooter. His father, James Colson, remains furious that Krauss has not been held criminally accountable for shooting his son.

“We’re talking about a young Black man, 28 years old, getting shot down doing his job,” the father said. “That officer has not been accountable for any of [this]. They let [Krauss] remain in the police department. He got 10 years of service, and I think they let him slip out the back door and retire.” Krauss is no longer working for the force.

The father also said, according to NBC Washington, “Let’s be very clear, Jacai Colson survived a gun battle with Michael Ford. He retreated and ran for cover, as his training and instincts took place, and took a bullet from Taylor Krauss … and was killed recklessly by another police officer.”

Another attorney for the family, Tiffani Collins, said, “The Colson family filed a civil suit in this case in an effort to get answers about what happened to their son.”

The mother echoed the lawyer saying, “This county was not forthright with the evidence telling us what really happened, showing us what really happened, and that made Jacai’s death even harder to take.”

James Colson said, “This settlement is just the tip of the iceberg,” revealing to the public the family will stay firm on a trek for justice for Jacai.

The chair of the Prince George’s County Council is also looking for some sort of justice for Perez, who had to retire after the police-involved killing. She is said to be battling bouts of PTSD. The council is calling for her to receive a medal of valor for trying to save his life and disability retirement.

On the day of his demise, Detective Colson was bringing Perez lunch. 

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