Police Shootings

A Washington Post Investigation

Day One

Prince George's County police have shot and killed people at rates that exceed those of nearly any other large force in the nation.

  • Officers Killed With Impunity Officials Ruled Shootings Justified in Every Case -- Even of Unarmed Citizens, July 1, 2001
    By any measure, Prince George's County police have shot and killed people at rates that exceed those of nearly any other large police force in the nation. Since 1990, they have shot 122 people, killing 47 of them.

  • Efforts at Reform Repeatedly Stalled, July 1, 2001
    A dozen years ago, frustration with decades of unfettered behavior by the Prince George's County police boiled over when an unarmed African immigrant named Gregory Habib was tackled and crushed to death by officers who had stopped his truck for blocking traffic in Langley Park.

  • Day Two

    Some Prince George's police officers face repeated complaints, but charges filed against them usually go nowhere.

  • Police Routinely Clear Their Own Prince George's Tolerates Officers Accused of Repeated Abuses, July 2, 2001
    In one 15-month stretch, Prince George's County police officer Francis A. Masino shot an unarmed man, allegedly broke a paraplegic's leg and smashed a driver in the eye with a blackjack. Three other people accused him of misconduct and abuse. One of his relatives warned police, in writing, that Masino was "a madman." Yet time after time in the 1980s and early 1990s, police officials cleared him of wrongdoing and put him back on the street, where he continued to find trouble.

  • State Law Hampers Investigators, July 2, 2001
    When a Prince George's officer shoots or kills someone, an urgent message crackles over the police radio: Call a lawyer. Under Maryland law, police who use deadly force are not required to tell investigators what happened for at least 10 days. The rule is designed to give officers time to obtain legal counsel before answering any questions that could land them in trouble.

  • Results Of Chief's Efforts Are Mixed, July 2, 2001
    When John S. Farrell arrived as Prince George's County's new police chief in September 1995, he found an agency badly in need of modernization. Computers were rare. The fingerprint-analysis machines barely worked. And the department continued to suffer from a reputation for beating, shooting and abusing residents.

  • Day Three

    Prince George's officers have killed or wounded at least 12 mentally ill or disturbed people since 1990.

  • Families' Pleas for Help End in Gunfire Pr. George's Police Eschew Nonlethal Options, July 3, 2001
    Winona Randall rushed to her neighbor's home to call police. Please come help my son, she said; he is mentally ill and needs to go to the hospital. In the kitchen of her Fort Washington home just minutes before, Louis Eugene Randall Jr. had been chopping strawberries when, suddenly and silently, he began to stab a paring knife into a plastic sugar canister. She knew that her son, who was manic-depressive, needed medication.

  • Shooting at Vehicles Perilous, Experts Say Many Police Forces Have Banned the Tactic, July 3, 2001
    Many police departments prohibit officers from shooting at cars. Bullets can ricochet or miss their mark, putting bystanders at risk. If they do hit their target, the result can be a speeding car with a dead person behind the wheel. In Prince George's County, however, the practice isn't banned, and it's not uncommon for police to open fire on vehicles. Since 1990, officers have wounded or killed 18 people in cars. Fifteen of those people were unarmed.

  • Day Four

    Records on the deaths of 12 detainees suggest that police often sought to cover up beatings and sometimes delayed medical care.

  • Official Secrecy Shrouds Fatal Arrests Prince George's Police Hamper Prosecutors, July 4, 2001
    Prince George's County police said they didn't seriously injure Clarence Stewart. Yet his autopsy report shows he was bludgeoned on his head, right shoulder, back, legs and arms with a metal nightstick. Police said they didn't hurt Elmer Newman, except for a few bruises. They suggested he broke his own ribs and two bones in his neck as he thrashed around.

  • County Won't Release Records on Many Cases, July 4, 2001
    Last year, after his officers killed two men in one weekend, Prince George's County Police Chief John S. Farrell promised a "vigorous investigation." "The facts will come out," he said. "This scrutiny is necessary so the community understands that nothing will be left undone when it comes to investigating these cases." But in Prince George's, many facts about police shootings are kept secret.

  • More From the Series

  • Pr. George's Police Beset By Own Dogs Canine Unit Conspicuous For Number of Attacks, Some of Them Disabling, December 30, 2001
    As a police officer chased a fleeing suspect in Brandywine 16 months ago, a large dog bolted out of the early morning darkness and tore into his legs, clamping down with such ferocity that he suffered permanently disabling injuries.

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