Montgomery County State's Attorney Andrew Sonner said yesterday there is not sufficient criminal evidence to reopen an investigation into the fatal shooting of a Maryland man by an off-duty police officer who, according to an internal police investigation, lied about the incident, violated the department's rule on the use of deadly force and acted unsatisfactorily during and after the confrontation.
A Montgomery County Circuit Court grand jury decided in March not to indict Officer Bruce Jackson, who was recommended for dismissal Wednesday by Montgomery County Police Chief Bernard Crooke. The jury weighed evidence submitted by criminal police investigators, who acted separately from internal affairs detectives and did not conclude that Jackson had lied, Sonner said.
The police bill of rights states that information gathered in an internal affairs investigation cannot be used for criminal prosecution, Sonner said, explaining why he will not reopen the investigation at this time.
Jackson shot Jan Michael Moore, a 39-year-old Kensington hairdresser, at a traffic light at East West Highway and Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda on Feb. 11.
Jackson, a nine-year veteran of the force, has been on administrative leave with pay since the incident. He is appealing the chief's recommendation. Neither he nor Larry Pagley, an officer who also was off duty and was with Jackson before and after the shooting, could be reached for comment yesterday.
A source close to the internal affairs investigation said yesterday that the charge that Jackson lied about the incident stemmed from the officer's having stopped for a few minutes to regain his composure before driving to the police station to make a report. "This is a dispute totally created by internal affairs," the source said. "Jackson and Pagley told internal affairs they went immediately to the police station. In fact, Jackson pulled up the street approximately one block. Pagley pulled up behind him. Jackson was in hysterics and Pagley calmed him down and said, 'Let's go to the police station.' " The source said Jackson and Pagley arrived at the station before the radio call about the incident was received.
Jackson and Pagley were described by their colleagues on the force and by state's attorney Sonner yesterday as excellent police officers. "His Jackson's reputation is very good," Sooner said. "He's a level-headed, tough, brave cop. Pagley has a good reputation, too. He's a family man. He's well-liked among prosecutors."
An officer who has known Jackson for four years said, "Most of us feel he's getting the shaft and that he hasn't been given total due process under the county's law enforcement bill of rights."
Another officer, who worked with Jackson at the Bethesda substation for three years, described him as a "gung-ho, text book, 24-hour-a-day cop." The officer said Jackson's commitment stemmed from a 1975 auto accident that occurred while he was on duty. "It injured his back and legs and the doctors told him he'd never walk again. But Bruce really worked hard to get back on his feet. And when he finally went back to work, it was like he'd been reborn . . .He never got into trouble, never made waves."