By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) — A man charged with murder in the friendly-fire shooting death of an undercover police detective testified Wednesday that he was trying to get himself killed when he attacked a Maryland police station and never intended to harm anybody.
Michael Ford, the only defense witness at his trial, said he never saw Prince George’s County detective Jacai Colson before a fellow officer mistakenly shot the plainclothes narcotics detective. But authorities say Ford exchanged gunfire with Colson before Officer Taylor Krauss shot his colleague.
This photo provided by the state’s attorney’s office in Prince George’s County, Md., shows Michael Ford, charged with attacking a Maryland police station while his two brothers videotaped the shootout, which led to an officer mistakenly killing an undercover detective. Opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, for Ford’s trial in the 2016 shooting death of Prince George’s County police detective Jacai Colson. (Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office via AP)
Ford fired up to 23 shots outside the police station but didn’t hit anybody during the videotaped March 2016 ambush.
“I shot low,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to shoot nobody.”
Ford is charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and other offenses. Prosecutors argue he is legally responsible for Colson’s death even though he didn’t fire the fatal shot because he started the deadly shootout.
His attorney, Antoini Jones, asked him why he opened fire on the police station.
“Because I wanted to die,” Ford said. “And I knew the police kill black men with no problem.”
Ford is black, and so was Colson. Krauss, who is white, wasn’t charged in Colson’s death.
Krauss testified earlier this week 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.
Ford, then 22, said he didn’t know his two younger brothers were recording cellphone videos of the ambush after dropping him off at the station in Landover, a suburb of Washington.
One of the videos shows Ford screaming obscenities and shouting, “Do something!” in between shots.
A judge ruled before trial that Ford couldn’t present an insanity defense despite his serious mental-health issues.
Ford said he was hearing voices in his head after he woke up on the morning 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 said.
After meeting his brothers at his mother’s home, Ford dictated his last will and testament minutes before they dropped him off at the nearest station. He
A police detective testified in 2016 that Ford’s brothers agreed to film the shooting so the video could be sent to WorldstarHipHop.com, a website known for posting users’ violent videos.
“I had nothing to do with that,” Ford said during a prosecutor’s cross-examination.
Ford’s brothers, Malik and Elijah, pleaded guilty to related charges and await sentencing hearings.
Colson’s parents sued Krauss and Prince George’s County, accusing Krauss of recklessly firing his rifle that day.
Ford shot out the police station’s glass door before firing at and “barely” missing officers who responded, according to a police report. Ford also fired his .40-caliber handgun at passing vehicles, including an ambulance that was hit by his gunfire, the report said.
Colson was a four-year veteran of the department and 28-year-old native of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania.
Ford said he never had any problems with police officers in Prince George’s County before the shooting. He said he respected police.
“When I was homeless, they would buy me food all the time,” he said.
Jurors are expected to hear closing arguments and begin deliberating Thursday.