Overzealous or poorly trained police officers sometimes cause serious injury and death to innocent citizens by improper use of firearms and other weapons. Victims of police “excessive force” cases can face a difficult time obtaining justice, due to complex laws that provide many escape hatches for police departments and their employees.
Patrick Malone & Associates has major experience representing victims of police excessive force.
A History of Police Excessive Force
More than two decades after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, allegations of excessive force used by police officers dominate the headlines, particularly in recent years. First the death of Eric Garner resulted in public outrage, then Ferguson, Missouri and the shooting of teenager Michael Brown resulted in protests across the nation. That same month, Freddie Gray died while in police custody in Baltimore, Maryland, and the list has only grown since that time. One police force after another has been investigated by the Department of Justice. Many of these police department routinely engage in a pattern of excessive force, including deadly force, which is in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Excessive Use of Force by Police in the Case of Prince Jones
Over a decade before these instances of police excessive force, the case of Prince Jones Jr., in which our firm represented the victim’s infant daughter, showed just how wrong the use of excessive force by police can go. Prince Carmen Jones, Jr., a 25-year-old Howard University student, drove from Prince George’s County, Maryland, back through the District of Columbia, and into Fairfax County, Virginia, followed the entire way by two police officers from the Prince George’s County Police Department. Jones was driving to Virginia to visit Candace Jackson, his fiancée, and their baby daughter Nina. The two police officers were driving unmarked SUVs. The officers later claimed that they were following Prince Jones in a case of mistaken identity.
Jones was killed in a hail of bullets fired by one of the officers, Carlton Jones.
After a five-year legal battle, a trial was held in Prince George’s County Circuit Court. Attorneys Patrick Malone and co-counsel Terrell N. Roberts III represented Prince’s father and daughter. The jury awarded $2.5 million to Nina Jones, the daughter, $200,000 to Prince Jones’ father, and $1 million to Mabel Jones, Prince’s mother. Mabel Jones was separately represented and ultimately recovered nothing on her claim. Prince George’s County did pay the full amount of the judgment on the claims of Nina Jones and Prince Jones Senior, who were represented by Patrick Malone and Terrell Roberts.
The killing of Prince Jones inspired a college friend of his, Ta-Nehisi Coates, to write a book, Between the World and Me, which won the 2015 National Book Award prize for nonfiction.
You can read trial transcripts featuring our work on Prince Jones’s case on these two pages of our website:
We reprint here the cross-examination by Patrick Malone of the police officer defendant’s expert witness, a psychologist named William Lewinski. The closing argument by Patrick Malone arguing for damages for Prince Jones’s daughter is posted here.
What happened between Prince Jones and the officer who killed him ultimately could never be known beyond a shadow of a doubt, because the officer was the only one alive to tell the story, and there were no eyewitnesses. This raises a question about cameras, which we address next.
Could the Use of Body Cameras Decrease the Number of Excessive Force Claims?
It has been suggested that the wearing of body cameras by the police could increase the transparency of interactions between the public and police officers. Although some forces have taken steps to outfit their officers with body cameras, others cite cost as a reason to avoid the use of body cameras. Americans overwhelmingly support equipping all police officers with body cameras, yet in most major cities, you are not likely to run into a cop wearing a body camera. The Huffington Post looked at 27 police departments in some of the largest U.S. cities in 2015, with the following results:
- Only two departments—New Orleans and Albuquerque—have equipped their officers with body cameras;
- Seattle and Minneapolis are hoping to have their departments fully outfitted with body cameras within a year;
- New York City and Chicago have made progress, but have no specific timetable, and
- Officials in Boston, Columbus, Boise, Kansas City, and Jacksonville have considered body cameras, but have done little to actually implement the cameras.
A record of all interactions between officers and civilians is created when officers wear body cameras. The theory is that the police will be less likely to engage in the use of excessive force or other misconduct, and that citizens will be less likely to make false claims of excessive force or mistreat officers. Studies done in smaller police forces that have implemented the use of body cameras show the use of force by officers and complaints from citizens have both seen a dramatic drop.
Contact Patrick Malone & Associates If You’re Seeking Justice Due to Police Excessive Force
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our injury lawyers have extensive experience representing victims of police brutality and excessive force in Washington, DC metro area, northern Virginia, and Maryland. If you or someone you love has sustained a serious injury due to excessive police force, we can help. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6635 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.
The injury attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, and elsewhere in Maryland and Virginia.