A Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia police officer was arrested Tuesday and charged with felony murder in connection with a fatal shooting about two weeks ago in Southeast Washington, police officials said.
In a case that appeared to be without recent precedent, police said Reginald Jones, who has been a member of the force for six years, was arrested in the death of Arvel S. Alston, 40.
Police said Jones “basically served as a lookout” and did not shoot Alston, who was killed in the 4300 block of Fourth Street on Dec. 1. A police source said Alston had been attempting a robbery that went awry.
Jones was on duty at the time and was at the scene in a patrol car assigned to the gun-recovery unit that he works for, a police source said. He fled when shots were fired, the source said.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier called Jones, 40, “a disgrace to the uniform.”
“We will not allow this department to be judged by one bad apple,” she said in brief remarks during a news conference at police headquarters.
Rather, she said, “we should be judged on how we handled that bad apple.”
Alston and at least one other man were to carry out the robbery, according to police sources. However, the sources said, the intended victim resisted, and in the ensuing moments, Alston was fatally shot.
Three police sources said the shot that killed Alston was fired by his son.
In addition to Jones, two other men have been arrested in Alston’s death, and police sources identified one of them — Arvel Crawford — as Alston’s son.
The charge of felony murder, which faces the officer, Alston’s son and the third suspect, may be brought when a death occurs during the commission of a serious felony. The death need not be intentional and may be accidental.
The intended victim of the robbery was wounded and taken to a hospital. The robbery victim’s name has not been released.
Lanier said Jones was related to at least one member of the group attempting the robbery. She declined to elaborate, citing the investigation.
In a news release issued the day after Alston’s death, police said a preliminary investigation of the case “revealed that this homicide may have occurred as a result of an armed carjacking.”
The initial account said that officers from the city’s 7th Police District were sent to the 4300 block of Fourth Street to investigate a report of a shooting in the Washington Highlands area.
When they arrived, police said, they found Alston lying in the street, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.
They said D.C. fire and emergency medical services personnel took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:05 p.m.
Witnesses at the scene of the fatal shooting told police that they saw a patrol car there before the incident.
The third man arrested in connection with Alston’s death was identified at the news conference as Rashun M. Parker, 27, who was taken into custody Friday. Police said he faces a charge of felony murder while armed. They did not specify what role they accuse Parker of playing in the matter.
Police said Arvel Crawford, whom sources identified as the victim’s son, was arrested Tuesday.
In the initial report, police said a person, also suffering from apparent gunshot wounds, was found at the scene and taken to a hospital in stable condition. Police said that person was considered a possible witness in the case and declined to give a name.
However, in papers filed in court, police reported a discovery allegedly made when hospital technicians cut away the victim’s trousers.
They said a large bag was found that contained 31.4 grams of crack cocaine.
The offices of the gun-recovery unit, which is involved in seizing illegal firearms, are at the police narcotics and special investigations branch on Third Street NE.
Jones was taken into custody by detectives from the homicide branch when he arrived at work about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, police said.
At the hastily called news conference Tuesday evening, Lanier spoke harshly about the suspect but was firm in her support of the other members of the department.
Lanier said, “Officer Jones and his actions are a disgrace to the uniform proudly worn by members of the Metropolitan Police Department,” who, she added, “put their lives on the line every day.”
In a statement released Tuesday night, Lanier said, “This crime is a betrayal of the community’s trust and is an insult to the fine men and women of this department.”
Although there was no immediate indication that any officer had faced so serious a charge in recent years, a former officer was acquitted of a murder charge in 1994. She later pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy in the same case.
Filed under: Civil Liberties, Drugs, Guns, Prison Industrial Complex | Tagged: Arvel Crawford, Arvel S. Alston, Cathy L. Lanier, District of Columbia, Metropolitan Police Department, Rashun M. Parker, Reginald Jones |