The U.S. Justice Department has determined that it will not bring criminal charges against a Prince George's County police officer in the shooting death of a District teen-ager who had fatally stabbed the officer's K-9 dog.
The Justice Department was asked to look into the incident by the family of the victim, Michael P. Sluby, 18, of Northeast, after the police department ruled that the officer acted in self-defense. Justice's civil rights division reviewed the case, which was investigated by the FBI, to determine if Officer Joseph Wing had misused his position as a law enforcement officer in violation of federal law.
The investigation was closed June 7, and Justice concluded that "there was not sufficient evidence to show that the officer had specific intent to violate Sluby's civil rights," department spokeswoman Amy Brown said yesterday.
Sluby was shot by Wing last October in a dark room in a school being used as a Halloween haunted house. Wing told police investigators that he shot Sluby in self-defense because Sluby was coming toward him with a knife and had killed Wing's dog, Rebel. The police Internal Affairs Division probe determined that Wing had not acted improperly.
Sluby's family, however, asked for the Justice Department investigation and an autopsy of the dog. The autopsy confirmed that the animal died of stab wounds.
Yesterday Col. Rice Turner, the second-in-command of the Prince George's police department, said he was pleased with Justice's report because "we had reached those same conclusions some time ago."
But according to John W. Karr, the Sluby family's lawyer, the family intends to file a civil suit against the police. Karr said he asked for a Justice investigation to determine if Sluby had been unlawfully deprived of his civil right to life.
According to police, at about 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 26, Sluby and a friend, Candace Craig, broke into the vacant Mount Rainier Junior High School on Queens Chapel Road and tripped a silent alarm. Police said there was evidence that the couple had moved a tape recorder they found in the school.
Wing responded to the alarm with Rebel. Wing reportedly announced his presence, then sent the dog ahead to investigate, according to police. Rebel found Sluby in a darkened classroom and attacked him, and Sluby stabbed the animal with a hunting knife, police said. They said Sluby advanced toward Wing, who shot him in the arm and chest. Sluby died a few hours later.