Man who fired on police station sentenced to 195 years

Michael Ford (Photo: Supplied)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Man who fired on police station sentenced to 195 years

  • County prosecutor Joseph Ruddy argued Ford’s actions created a “combat zone” and caused Colson’s death even though he didn’t fire the fatal shot

UPPER MARLBORO, Md.: A gunman sentenced to 195 years in prison for an attack on a police station apologized Thursday to the parents of an undercover narcotics detective who was mistakenly shot and killed by a fellow officer during the ambush.
Before a judge sentenced him, Michael Ford said he didn’t intend to harm anybody but himself when he opened fire on a Prince George’s County police station in March 2016. In November, a jury convicted Ford, 25, of second-degree murder in the killing of Detective Jacai Colson even though he didn’t fire the shot that killed the four-year veteran of the county’s police department.
“That man does not deserve to be dead. I should be dead,” Ford told Colson’s parents.
Before hearing Ford’s apology, James and Sheila Colson criticized authorities for not seeking criminal charges against the officer who killed their son. Jacai Colson exchanged gunfire with Ford before Officer Taylor Krauss fatally shot the plainclothes detective with a rifle, mistaking him for a threat.
Sheila Colson described Krauss as careless and reckless and said she believes her son was killed because he was black. Ford also is black. Krauss is white.
“Not once did I get an, ‘I’m sorry,’ from Taylor Krauss. Not once,” she said.
She and her husband also accused police officials of lying to them about the circumstances of their son’s death, misleading them to believe he was caught in a crossfire.
“To this day, no one can give me an explanation for why my son was shot,” she said, fighting back tears.
Ford’s two younger brothers, Malik and Elijah Ford, drove him to the police station and recorded video of the shooting with their cellphones. Though not accused of firing any shots, they pleaded guilty to related charges and were sentenced Thursday to 20 and 12 years in prison, respectively.
Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Hill Jr. told Malik and Elijah that they “sold their brother down the river out of greed” for the car he promised to leave them. The judge told Michael Ford that he has no doubt he tried to kill officers and civilians even if he intended to die himself.
“You are responsible for the death of Jacai Colson,” he said.
Ford testified he was trying to get himself killed by police when he fired his handgun nearly two dozen times outside the station. He said he didn’t intend for anyone else to be harmed.
County prosecutor Joseph Ruddy argued Ford’s actions created a “combat zone” and caused Colson’s death even though he didn’t fire the fatal shot. Ford didn’t hit anybody when he fired 23 shots from a handgun, but bullets he fired struck two passing vehicles and an ambulance, according to Ruddy.
“That was no suicide mission. That was a mission to kill cops,” the prosecutor said during the trial’s closing arguments.
Krauss testified that he never saw Colson hold up a badge or heard him identify himself as a police officer before shooting him once in the chest.
A grand jury declined to indict Krauss on any charges related to Colson’s shooting. Colson’s parents sued Krauss and Prince George’s County.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who was serving as the county’s top prosecutor when Michael Ford was charged and tried, said she “spent many hours walking the Colsons through every piece of evidence, walking the crime scene with them, and we answered every question they had.”
“Ultimately a grand jury of 23 Prince Georgians reviewed that evidence and declined to indict Officer Krauss,” Alsobrooks said in a statement. “I can never begin to understand what they feel as grieving parents, and my thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Colson family.”
Ford’s brothers recorded cellphone videos of the ambush after dropping him off at the station in Landover, a suburb of Washington, D.C. They agreed to film the shooting so the video could be sent to a website known for posting users’ violent videos, a police detective testified in 2016.
One of the videos shows Ford screaming obscenities and shouting, “Do something!” in between shots. Ford, then 22, also dictated his last will and testament on video minutes before his brothers dropped him off at the station.
Ford said he was hearing voices in his head on the day of the shooting. He said he retrieved a gun from a safe in his car and held it to his head.
“I couldn’t pull the trigger,” he testified at trial.
Hill ruled before the trial that Ford couldn’t present an insanity defense despite his serious mental health issues.
Antoini Jones, Ford’s attorney, told jurors that Colson didn’t match the gunman’s description apart from his race. At the start of the trial, Jones said the evidence would show the detective was shot “because he was black.”
Colson was a 28-year-old native of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania.
Colson and Krauss had worked in the narcotics unit together and sat at connecting desks.


Pakistan Army vows ‘to stand by Saudi brethren’

Updated 11 min 32 sec ago
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Pakistan Army vows ‘to stand by Saudi brethren’

  • Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have always been close defense partners

KARACHI: Defense cooperation between Islamabad and Riyadh has withstood the test of time, said Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, head of the Pakistan army’s media wing. 

“Pakistan is committed to standing by its Saudi brethren,” Ghafoor told Arab News.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed a series of agreements to bolster investment in Pakistan with the Kingdom also planning to build a major oil refinery in the country.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, told Arab News that the investment initiatives proved that “strong ties (between the two countries) have been revived.”

He added: “Both countries also have strong security relations. If anyone would create chaos in or attack the Kingdom, Pakistan would stand by its brethren Saudi Arabia. We had been with the Kingdom in the past and we will stand by it in the future.”

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have historically been close defense partners. Pakistan helped the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) build and fly its first fighter jets. In 1969, Pakistan Air Force pilots flew the RSAF’s Lightning to thwart intrusions along the Kingdom’s southern border from south Yemen.

Over the next two decades, up to 15,000 Pakistani troops were posted in the Kingdom to strengthen security, and almost 13,000 troops and 6,000 advisers were stationed in Saudi Arabia until the Gulf War in 1991.

Under a 1982 protocol, cooperation was widened to include military training, defense production and sharing, and joint exercises. Pakistan’s armed forces have frequently taken part in joint military exercises inside Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan People’s Party Sen. Sehar Kamran, president of the Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies, said that Pakistanis had always felt a special reverence for Saudi Arabia as the land where Islam was founded and developed.

“The leadership of Saudi Arabia and its government have been coordinating with Pakistan on many important issues, and share similarities on different regional and international matters,” she said.

Military cooperation had been mutual and not a one-way street, she added. 

“Saudi Arabia sent its two naval ships to help Pakistan in its war against India 1971,” Kamran said. “The Kingdom has also unconditionally supported Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir.”

The Kingdom came to Pakistan’s aid in May 1998 — after it tested nuclear weapons — and promised to supply 50,000 barrels of free oil per day to help the country cope with likely economic sanctions.

Dr. Moonis Ahmar, a professor of international relations at Karachi University, said that Pakistan developed strong relations with Saudi Arabia during former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s regime.

“During Gen. Zia-ul-Haq’s government military cooperation between the two countries strengthened further,” Ahmar said, adding that a Pakistan army division was deployed on Saudi Arabia’s request to reclaim the Grand Mosque in Makkah after insurgents seized it in November 1979.

Security analyst Imtiaz Gul said relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were linked to the friendship between King Faisal and Bhutto. “These ties then extended to military cooperation,” he said.

The Saudis are indebted to Pakistan for the support it had extended to the royal family over the years, Gul said. Currently, Pakistan’s retired army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, commands a Saudi-led Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism. 

“The Kingdom asking for Gen. Raheel to lead the Islamic military alliance is also a huge manifestation of its trust in Pakistan’s military,” he said.

In recent years, however, Pakistan has opted to stay out of a Saudi conflict with Yemen, adopting a policy of neutrality and non-intervention. 

 Kamran said while Pakistan had upheld its policy of non-intervention it was always ready to protect the holy land. 

“Religious affinity, reverence for the two Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah, a deep historical connection, as well as economic, social, and cultural bonds have united the people from these two lands in perpetuity,” she said.

“In spite of an evolving geopolitical and geostrategic landscape, the two have always been able to stand together on issues related to international peace and security.

“What sets this particular bilateral relationship apart is the absolute trust and mutual respect at heart, which has been an institutional policy of the state, irrespective of the government in power. Consequently, this all-weather friendship has withstood the test of time,” she said.