Have you heard the name Officer Jacai Colson ? In the last 45 days 3 cops were shot in the line of duty in Maryland, 2 of them were white, one Black The difference in the media coverage is extremely noticeable. Two were declared heroes and the local news ran story after story on the fallen cops. In fact, the local news stations CBS 13 WJZ at one point had posted 15 updates in 12 hours on Facebook about the fallen officers. The media coverage was so extensive from the moment they died, until now, over a month after their deaths.
There is another police involved shooting I’d like to see the same type coverage on. On Sunday March 13th breaking news told us that an officer had been shot in an ambush in P.G. County. Collectively we all sighed and thought not again. We braced for more information to be released and to see another 5 weeks of slain officer stories. That’s not what we got however.
As the story unfolded we were told that Officer First Class Jacai Colson was hit by friendly fire, ie: shot by a fellow cop. We were told that Officer Colson arrived on the scene where there was a man shooting at passing cars and towards the police station. Upon his arrival he took fire at the gun toting suspect. According to the official story, 5 other were outside the police precinct to respond to the gunshots and Officer Colson was shot.
We hoped to hear that Officer Colson had somehow inadvertently gotten in the way of gunfire but that is not the case. We have now been told that Officer Colson was shot deliberately by a fellow officer. An undercover narcotics officer, Officer Colson was in plain clothes with no bullet proof vest as he jumped out of his unmarked police car.
Officer Colson was Black and in plain clothes leading many of us to speculate if the officers responding to the shots saw one Black man ( the suspect) with a gun and assumed their fellow officer was another assailant. It’s hard to understand how a cop could open fire in the direction of a fellow officer. Plain clothes or not, this is a man you go to role call with, functions with, have a locker near. It’s hard to believe that seeing his fellow officers storm out of the building or arriving on the scenes, that he wouldn’t have identified himself, even address one by name. We weren’t there so we won’t know for sure if there was any way to avoid this tragedy.
“The shot that struck and killed Detective Colson was deliberately aimed at him by another police officer. It’s another tragic dimension to this unfolding story,” Prince George’s County police Chief Hank Stawinski told reporters in a press conference. The environment was incredibly chaotic. We had officers under fire immediately, trying to seek cover,” Stawinski continued. “There’s no intention, as I have seen the facts and as they have been explained to me, to indicate any malice or anything along those lines.”
“Detective Colson drew fire to himself and in doing so was mortally wounded,” Stawinski said. “Detective Colson reacted to a set of circumstances that, quite frankly, I don’t think he was entirely prepared for.
He said officers responded with restraint because of homes behind the gunman. Colson reacted with heroism, Stawinski said; his efforts provided cover for other officers.
Drew fire to himself..his efforts provided cover… Is that how they want to spin it? Drew fire to himself? Provided cover for other officers who didn’t even recognize him. That would indicate he did something to get the officers attention and was providing cover. I wonder if he identified himself. The chief talks about him as if he were a human sacrifice, “drew fire to himself and was wounded” They sure didn’t say that in the case of the sheriff deputies shot in Harford County last month.
The department has released the name of the officers who responded to the scene, but they are not identifying which one hit Colson.
The threat the officers were all attending to turned out to be bigger than originally thought. Instead of one man randomly firing at cars, they found that his two brothers were in a nearby car recording. The shooter had recorded his will on video and was attempting death by cop. All 3 are in custody are expected to be charged with second degree murder, six counts of attempted first degree murder, nine counts of use of a handgun in the commission of a felony and additional charges.
SO LET ME GET THIS CLEAR, THE BULLET THAT KILLED OFFICER COLSON WAS SHOT BY A FELLOW OFFICER AND MEN ARE IN JAIL BEING CHARGED WITH MURDER. 2 OF THE MEN HOW NEVER HAD A GUN NOR STEPPED OUT THE CAR. Yet we can’t know the name of the officer who shot Officer Colson and apparently that officer is NOT responsible for his accidental death. I’d love to know how a man who did not shoot this officer is being charged with murder while the cop who shot him is not.
Officer Colson had just celebrated his 4th year on the force the day prior to his death. He was 28, just days away from his 29th birthday.
As I type this the morning news is on and they are repeatedly updating us with information about the Harford County shooting on February 10th. The 911 call that brought the 2 slain white officers to the scene has been released. The audio call only leads to more questions. We kept being told the officers were ambushed. The now released 911 calls make it clear that the sheriff knew exactly who he was approaching, that the man may be armed and had a criminal history. Yet the sheriff chose to approach the man, weapon holstered, alone with no back up, and without clearing the store. We are lucky the officers were the only causality other than the shooter.
Within minutes we knew the suspects name. Within a hour of the shooting we knew that his estranged wife had made the 911 call. We knew the names of both sheriffs shot. We knew about the suspects prior history. Within hours we knew everything the police knew. The next few days it seemed any piece of information they could gather, any witness testimony was paraded all over the television and internet.
To further make you understand the way this state reacted to the death of these two white deputies I challenge you to type the hashtag #HarfordStrong on facebook. You will find literally THOUSANDS of posts dedicated to the life and death of the two slain Harford County deputies. You will discover in the month since their deaths at LEAST 5 fundraisers have been held on their behalf. Each fundraiser has been promoted by and covered by the local news.
Members of the National FOP as well as local police departments attacked President Obama for not taking time to PERSONALLY address the situation. They criticized him for not attending the funerals of the slain officers.
In My article writing February 17th I pointed out the fact that Maryland officers were seeking special attention for the death of these deputies who died in the line of duty.
For the last few days I’ve watched my local news and bit my tongue as I watched what it chose to cover. I, like many in Maryland are still waiting to hear more information about Officer Colson.
Carroll County, Maryland Sheriff Jim DeWees posted an open letter to President Obama on his personal facebook page afterr the death of the two white deputies. His letter stressed the sheriff’s frustration that President Obama hasn’t spoken publicly about the shooting deaths of the deputies. His letter was shared on facebook overr 20,000 times at the time of my article.
“When my president doesn’t take the time to openly recognize the sacrifices that brave men & women of law enforcement make each day to keep domestic peace, I’m disappointed! I suspect that if these same deputies walked in to a restaurant, and without provocation shot and killed an innocent man, you and your staff would quickly whisk their family away to Washington for a future speech to make an example of police officers nationwide.”
How is a cop shooting an unarmed man without provocation in any way related to what happened? How is that anything like a person with a criminal past, a history of assaulting police and open warrants shooting a cop? I don’t see any similarity. An innocent man should never be shot by the police. What would you expect a known criminal to do but commit crime? Is this how our sworn officers of the law think? No wonder so many unarmed men are shot every day, as Sheriff DeWees sees it, they’re the same as the common criminal. ( read his letter)
The National Fraternal Order of Police president, Chuck Canterbury also fired off a letter to President Obama after the death of the white officers. His letter asks the administration to consider violence against police and anti police rhetoric a ‘hate crime.’
So why the media silence on the death of Officer First Class Jacai Colson ? I speculate it’s either one of two reasons. Either it’s because he was Black and blue lives only matter when white OR because of the extreme embarrassment of the department that it’s officers could fire on a fellow officer claiming not to have recognized him.
Either way the local media silence is deafening. We caught a brief 2 minute story on the news this past weekend as a candle light vigil was held. His grandmother spoke of him fondly as she fought back tears.
This case brings back to the forefront of our memories that case of Officer William Torbit who was killed by friendly fire in Baltimore back in 2011. Officer Torbit’s death, like Officer Colson barely received coverage. Torbit, also a plains clothes officer answered a 911 call to respond to a club letting out due to the rowdiness of the patrons. He arrived to two women fighting and as he attempted to control the crowd was attacked by patrons of the club. He pulled his gun and shot into the crowd to get people off him. Other officers arrived on the scene and shot Torbit 30 times before he had a chance to even identify himself. One other man was killed, shot by Torbit. Three women were shot by errant police bullets.
The family of Officer Torbit filed a wrongful death civil suit after an internal investigation found that officers shouldn’t be held responsible for his death. After 5 weeks of testimony the judge decided that there wasn’t enough evidence of wrong doing on the part of the other officers involved to let a jury decide the case. Black cop shot by fellow cop, internal investigation only, jury not allowed to deliberate case and decide if money should be awarded . Okay.
Someone needs to let the Maryland legal system and media know that Blue Lives Matter when the officer is Black as well.
If the local media isn’t holding back this story then who is? Will we have to file FOI paperwork to find out who shot Officer Colson? Why aren’t we hearing about all the heroic things he did in his 4 years on the force? When the two white Harford County deputies were shot the media reported on their past heroic deeds. A whole stretch of highway was shut down for funerals. Facebook was flooded with post after post on how law enforcement all over the country was standing in solidarity with the slain officers. Letters were sent to the president. Why is Officer Colson’s family standing for him alone?
Side note: In 2001 a study of police shootings across the 1990’s was published by the Washington Post showing that PG County Police Department had the highest rate of fatal shootings per officer of any major city or police force in America. The same year Washington Monthly published a long detailed account of PG County Police violence against Black citizens. I am a Maryland resident and we know not to play with PG County. But it’s no where as uncomfortable as Harford County. I had Valentines Day dinner at a Mountain Branch last month, a very popular restaurant. Myself and My date were 2 of 3 Black people in a packed restaurant and the place is huge.