An internal Prince George's County Police Department investigation into the fatal shooting last week of a Capitol Heights man has cleared the two officers involved of any wrongdoing, a county police spokesman said last night.
The officers, Cpl. Steven F. Crane, a 12-year veteran, and Pfc. Purcell O. Alston Jr., who has been on the force for two years, will be reinstated to full duty by Monday, county police spokesman Cpl. Bruce Gentile said.
"This investigation has been reviewed by the chief of police, who has concluded that the officers acted legally and in keeping with the police department guidelines in regard to the use of deadly force," Gentile said.
The two were placed on routine administrative duty last Thursday after Ronald Walker, 21, of 5711 Coolidge St., who police said was suspected of being a drug dealer, was shot while fleeing from the officers. Walker died the next day at Prince George's General Hospital.
State Sen. Decatur Trotter, a Democrat whose district includes the Maryland Park area where the shooting occurred, had asked Police Chief Michael Flaherty and County Executive Parris Glendening for a thorough investigation of the shooting. Trotter said last night he "is not totally satisfied" with the department's investigation.
"I'm not certain that everything has been said that needs to be said," Trotter said. "But if the community doesn't come forward and present somebody with a statement about what took place, there won't be much more to do about it."
Police said they interviewed 30 people who were in the area at the time of the shooting, including Frank Dunmore and Michael Davis. Those two men told The Washington Post last week that they had seen the incident and did not see Walker reach inside his pants as if reaching for a gun as the officers alleged.
Gentile said Dunmore's and Davis's statements to police contradicted what they told The Washington Post. Davis, reached at home last night, said he gave police a statement and at times "felt like the detective was trying to put words in my mouth" about the incident. He declined to comment further. Dunmore could not be reached for comment.
Gentile said the investigation determined that a steak knife and five envelopes containing marijuana found by police along the route Walker took while running had been discarded by Walker. Police also found $234 on Walker, he said. "Most of it was in $5 denominations," indicating it might have come from the sale of small amounts of marijuana, Gentile said.
The officers, who were assigned to the Seat Pleasant station's undercover unit, had watched Walker for about 25 minutes on the corner of Eagle Street and Maryland Park Drive, Gentile said. They approached Walker, suspecting him of participating in a drug transaction after seeing him walk up to a car that had stopped on the corner and then place money in his pocket, he said.
The officers fired nine shots at Walker when he appeared to reach into the waist of his pants during the chase as though grabbing for a weapon during the chase, police said. Walker was hit three times: in the lower right leg, the chest area and the left back, Gentile said.
Maj. James Ross, head of the police Criminal Investigation Division, said the undercover officers were in the area at the request of residents who had complained about the open sale of drugs.