The man accused of launching an attack that led to the fatal shooting of an undercover detective testified Wednesday that he fired a handgun at a Prince George’s County police station because he wanted officers to fire back and kill him.
“I know that the police kill black men with no problem,” Ford said. “I wanted them to kill me.”
Although Ford said he hadn’t intended to harm anyone but himself, prosecutors immediately tried to beat back those assertions, showing video of Ford firing toward an officer, passing vehicles and an ambulance.
Ford took the witness stand in his own defense on the sixth day of his trial in Prince George’s County Circuit Court. He faces more than 20 charges in connection with the March 13, 2016, shooting outside a police station in Palmer Park, Md., that left narcotics detective Jacai Colson dead.
Colson, who responded out of uniform, was fatally shot by a fellow officer who mistook Colson for the gunman. Prosecutors say Ford should be convicted of second-degree murder because his actions sparked the events that led to Colson’s killing.
In a steady, matter-of-fact manner, Ford testified about how that day unfolded for him. He said he woke up that morning and “was going through something.”
The jury listened, leaning forward in their seats, as Ford testified that he pulled out a gun stashed in a safe inside his red Honda Accord and put the weapon to his head.
“I can’t take this s--- no more,” Ford recalled saying. Ford has a history of mental health issues, according to his attorney, but was found competent to stand trial.
Ford didn’t say why he didn’t kill himself at that point, but he said he called his brothers and told them to meet at their mother’s house. He wrote a note to his mother saying he was going to kill himself and apologizing. He recorded a video that he testified was supposed to convey his “last words” — giving away his car and electronics.
He then piled into his car with his younger brothers, Malik and Elijah Ford, and they headed to the police station on Barlowe Road.
Ford said he got out of the car and walked to the police station. He fired at the station doors twice, but no officers emerged. He testified that he unloaded a magazine with 12 rounds, tossed the empty magazine in the street and went behind a police van to reload.
“Come on! Come on! F-you! F-you! Get this over with,” Ford testified he screamed outside the station.
Ford said at one point, he saw an officer come out of the parking lot firing toward him.
“I got shot,” Ford said. “I threw the gun in the street, and I fell down.”
Ford said that he didn’t remember shooting directly at people or vehicles and that he had never seen Colson.
But on cross-examination, prosecutor Joseph Ruddy showed Ford a video of himself shooting at passing cars, at an ambulance and in the direction of a figure running backward on Barlowe Road who turned out to be Colson.
Police have said that right before Colson died, he drew gunfire from Ford, allowing other officers to get into position to take Ford down.
“My plan was not to hurt no one,” Ford said.
“That’s great that you had a plan, but you fired” 23 times at civilians, police and cars, Ruddy fired back. Ford’s attorney made an objection to the remark that the judge sustained.
Prosecutors have said that Ford had his brothers accompany him to the police station so they could record the shooting and post it on video-sharing site WorldStarHipHop. But Ford denied telling his brothers to record and post the video.
Malik Ford, 23, and Elijah Ford, 20, await sentencing in the case. Malik Ford pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder, use of a handgun in commission of a felony and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Elijah Ford pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Michael Ford’s attorney, Antoini Jones, has said his client should not be held responsible for Colson’s killing because it was Officer Taylor Krauss who fired the fatal shot.
Earlier this week, Krauss testified at Ford’s trial in his first public account of the shooting.
Krauss, who was cleared by a grand jury, said he fired at Colson because the undercover detective was in plain clothes and matched the description he heard for the man ambushing the police station.
“Oh my God, I shot him,” Krauss recalled saying after learning he had been shooting in the direction of a police officer. “I think I shot him.”
Colson’s family has filed a lawsuit against Prince George’s County and Krauss, saying Colson had his badge in his hand and was yelling “Police!” when he was killed. The lawsuit also contends that Colson was wrongly killed because the undercover detective, who was athletic with short hair, didn’t match the description of the shooter, described as a heavyset man with dreadlocks.
Krauss testified that he never saw a badge or heard Colson announce he was an officer.
Closing arguments are expected in Ford’s trial Thursday.