Never-before-seen police dashcam video reveals new details about the death of Prince George’s County Police Detective Jacai Colson.
Six years ago, Colson was shot dead by a fellow police officer. It happened seconds after the department’s District 3 police station was attacked by an active shooter.
Several officers worked to save Colson’s life that day and were honored for their acts of bravery, but one officer who says he held Colson when he died has been erased from history. Now she’s speaking out in a story you’ll only see on News4.
“Something is wrong”
In March 2016, a gunman fired at passing cars and then at the District 3 police station in Prince George’s County. Officers from across the region responded. For Mirian Perez, then a veteran Prince George’s County officer, getting there was personal.
“As I’m driving to headquarters first, I hear him, then after a while he stops talking – it’s like you can sense something is wrong.”
Perez said she was on the phone with Prince George Police Detective Jacai Colson, who she said was meeting her in District 3 to bring her lunch. She says the two were dating and he was the love of her life.
Colson was working undercover in an unmarked car without a police radio. Perez said he couldn’t figure out what he was headed for: an active shooter on a suicide mission.
According to court testimony, gunman Michael Ford wanted police to shoot and kill him. In a video will, Ford asked his brothers to record the attack for social media.
Perez heard what followed on his radio.
“I hear the chaos,” she recalls. “I hear, it’s like a detective shouting for more units. He’s shouting for a signal 13; for us, that means everyone’s on deck.”
Perez went with News4 to the scene where it all happened.
“I drove up, had the windows rolled down and I heard him trying to identify himself,” she said.
In never-before-seen video, Colson is the person heard shouting “Police!” Perez said.
According to the police department, Colson fired the shot that took down the active shooter and allowed officers to arrest him.
In the video, Ford’s brothers are heard reacting to the photo: “He’s my brother.”
Thirty seconds later, Officer Taylor Krauss shot Colson. According to court testimony, he missed and fired again from behind a fence. His bullet killed Colson.
Perez recalled, “He had just been shot when I came up to him.”
She said what she remembers most of the moment are Colson’s eyes.
“I was protecting him with my body, and I was holding him, and I looked at him and he was still yelling, ‘Police!’ and he said, ‘Baby, I got you.’
Officers put Colson in the back of Perez’s car, and she drove to Prince George’s County Hospital as another officer performed chest compressions on her.
“We get there, they take him to the ER, and after that I just remember the chief coming up to me and saying, ‘I’m sorry, Mirian; Jacai is gone.”
During grand jury testimony, Krauss said he believed Colson was the active shooter.
Colson’s family later sued the police department, claiming they weren’t told the facts about what happened that day. The lawsuit states that Colson did not fit the description of the shooter and that Krauss worked at a desk next to Colson at one point and should have recognized him, and that he should not have shot through a fence s ‘he could not.
“In my heart, I don’t believe he woke up that morning thinking, ‘I’m going to kill Jacai Colson,'” Perez said. “I think it was a horrible horrible mistake.”
A grand jury found Krauss not criminally responsible for the Colson shooting.
“I was living with survivor’s guilt”
Four of the officers present that day received medals of bravery. Colson’s parents received posthumous honors on behalf of their son. But there was no mention of Perez.
“At the time, because I was living with survivor’s guilt and I felt like I did this to him and didn’t save him, I was okay with the punishment, because I felt like I deserved that…because I didn’t save it,” Perez said.
Perez says she went into a spiraling depression and was eventually diagnosed with PTSD.
She says she attempted suicide, but was saved by the actions of a friend.
Perez says she decided to retire and applied for medical disability due to her PTSD, which was diagnosed by two doctors and confirmed by the department doctor. She submitted her paperwork to the county medical advisory board.
“The moderator pretty much basically said, ‘She should never have gone through all of this; she’s clearly unemployable … and that she deserves her medical pension,” Perez said.
The hearing examiner’s findings were confirmed in a letter, in which he states that she has proven her work-related disability and that she should be granted a service-related disability and retirement. But Perez never had that handicap. And after a long battle, his lawyer suggested he stop appealing.
Timothy J. Driscoll, the attorney who handled Perez’s disability case, responded to our interview request with a statement that read in part, “Mirian’s case is one of I’ve taken against the various county disability pension systems for public safety The personal and professional toll was too high [for me], I couldn’t continue. The systems were stacked against these officers and were, at best, generally unfair…I hope the Legislature and Governor’s Office can use Mirian’s example as an impetus for review and change.
“That was my goal”
Perez left Maryland. She says she now works with officers who have experienced trauma through her nonprofit. She says after all she has lost, she is determined to fight for others.
“I feel like that’s what had to happen,” she said. “It was my goal, it was my passion, it was my ‘why’, and I live it. I don’t think many people can say that.”
The Colson family’s lawsuit against the police department and the officer who fired the shot that killed Colson is still pending.
The Prince George’s County Police Department released a statement saying that although Perez was not mentioned in the story or offered to receive her award at the ceremony, she does have a cash bravery award. that they would like to give him now.
A Prince George’s County human relations spokesperson said he could not explain why Perez was not given a medical disability because the pension and medical records are confidential.
In the past three years, six of the nine officers who applied for medical disability were granted the benefit, according to the county’s human resources department.
The shooter that day, Michael Ford, was sentenced to 195 years in prison. His brothers were sentenced to 12 and 20 years, respectively, for their roles in the crime.
Krauss is no longer with the department.