Man Had Blunt Force Injuries, Private Autopsy Finds

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 20, 2008

An unarmed man who was fatally shot last month in Langley Park by an off-duty Prince George's County police officer also had blunt force injuries to his face and upper body, according to an autopsy arranged by his family.

Attorneys for Manuel de Jesus Espina's family said the autopsy supports accounts by three witnesses that Officer Steven Jackson, who was working as a security guard at an apartment complex, repeatedly beat Espina with his baton and fist before shooting him.

Injuries might be expected, however, given that police have said Jackson struck Espina with his baton during a struggle.

According to the autopsy, Espina, 43, suffered three lacerations, three contusions and a scratch to his face. Contusions and abrasions were also evident on Espina's arms, on the left side of his neck and near his right shoulder blade, according to the autopsy conducted by Vincent E. Hill.

Jackson, who police have said feared for his life when he fired his gun, required no medical treatment after the Aug. 16 encounter, according to a law enforcement source speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

The source's information is corroborated by a recording of police communications reviewed by The Washington Post. A county police officer who arrived at the scene minutes after the shooting was asked by a dispatcher whether any officers were injured. "Negative," the officer said. "No injuries to officers."

Through a representative of his union, Jackson declined to comment. A county police spokesman said the department would not comment because an internal investigation is ongoing.

Police have said that Jackson was trying to arrest Espina after finding him drinking in an apartment building stairwell but that Espina resisted arrest and began to fight the officer. Jackson used pepper spray and his baton, but Espina continued to resist, and Jackson fired his gun after Espina's son arrived and joined the fray, police said.

Police charged Manuel de Jesus Espina Jacome, 26, with assaulting Jackson. His attorney, Thomas C. Mooney, said of the autopsy, "It suggests a brutal beat-down by the police officer."

Timothy F. Maloney, a Greenbelt lawyer who is preparing a civil lawsuit against Jackson on behalf of the Espina family, said the autopsy "is consistent with the eyewitness accounts that the officer badly beat Mr. Espina before he shot him."

State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey's office, which is also investigating the shooting, is awaiting autopsy results from the D.C. medical examiner. Espina was taken to Washington Hospital Center in the District after he was shot.

"We appreciate the cooperation of the Espina family and their attorney in providing medical records, details about their independent autopsy, names and contact information for witnesses," Ivey said.

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