Judge Approves Settlement In Fatal Shooting by Officer

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The 7-year-old daughter of an unarmed man fatally shot in the back by an undercover Prince George's County police detective will receive more than $4.6 million over the next 33 years from the county under a settlement approved yesterday by a judge.

After an hour-long hearing, Prince George's Circuit Court Judge James J. Lombardi signed off on the agreement that will provide payments to Nina Jones, the daughter of Prince C. Jones Jr., until she is 40.

The award stems from a Sept. 1, 2000, incident in which Cpl. Carlton B. Jones (no relation) followed Prince Jones from Chillum, though the District and finally into the Seven Corners area of Fairfax County.

Carlton Jones, who was not in uniform and was not displaying a badge, testified during the civil trial that he fired his service weapon after Prince Jones twice backed his Jeep into the driver's-side door of the officer's sport-utility vehicle. Carlton Jones testified that he fired because Prince Jones was about to back into his vehicle a third time, and he feared for his life.

Two witnesses contradicted the officer's account. One testified that Prince Jones's vehicle was not moving when the shots were fired.

In January, a Circuit Court civil jury awarded $2.5 million in damages to Nina for what they determined was her father's wrongful death. The county technically agreed in the settlement to pay $2.5 million, with $200,000 of that amount going to her grandfather Prince C. Jones Sr. in a lump payment. But under the terms of the settlement, the county will pay Nina's share of the money to an insurance company, which will invest the funds and make payments until Nina is 40, said Terrell N. Roberts III, the attorney for Nina and the elder Prince Jones. The total at the end of the 33 years will be more than $4.6 million.

Candace Carson, 28, Nina's mother, said the settlement "brings great relief to our family."

In addition to the $2.5 million for Nina, the civil jury awarded $1 million to Mabel Jones and $200,000 to Prince C. Jones Sr., the mother and father of Prince Jones.

In February, at the request of county attorneys, Lombardi threw out the awards to the parents. Because the shooting occurred in Virginia, that state's law applied, and Virginia law does not allow parents to recover damages in wrongful-death lawsuits, Lombardi said.

During yesterday's hearing, Gregory D. Lattimer, an attorney for Mabel Jones, argued that it was illegal for the county to settle with Nina and Prince C. Jones Sr. and not settle with Mabel Jones.

Jay Creech, a special counsel in the county attorney's office, told Lombardi that efforts to settle with Mabel Jones had failed. Lattimer said he is appealing Lombardi's decision to throw out the jury's award to Mabel Jones and his approval of the settlement. Mabel Jones also has a lawsuit against the county and Carlton Jones pending in federal court.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company