Robert Sappington, president of the Prince George's County Fraternal Order of Police, yesterday accused Maryland state Sen. Decatur Trotter of criticizing the fatal shooting by police of a Capitol Heights man to help his reelection bid.

Trotter responded by saying Sappington is "misinformed and misguided on the issue," and denied using the incident for political purposes.

Sappington, in a prepared statement, said Trotter's criticism "drives a wedge between the embattled citizens and business owners who have been forced to tolerate a thriving open-air drug market for years right in the middle of their neighborhood."

Trotter, a Democrat whose district includes the Maryland Park area where the Dec. 19 shooting occurred, has said he is not satisfied with the police department's investigation, which cleared Cpl. Steven Kane and Pfc. Purcell Alston of any wrongdoing.

Police said the two officers fatally shot Ronald Walker, 21, of Capitol Heights, when he appeared to reach into his pants as if grabbing for a weapon while running from the two officers. Police suspected Walker of participating in a drug deal near Maryland Park Drive and Eagle Street.

Trotter said police have been in the Maryland Park area to combat illegal drug sales because of requests from him and other elected officials. He added that he wants police to remain in the area "until we get it cleaned up."