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Sunday’s Washington Post has two stories about Cpl. Steven Jackson, the Prince George’s County police officer accused of beating and then fatally shooting Manuel de Jesus Espina. The incident last August caused uproar and exposed the mistrust between county police and Langley Park’s large Hispanic community.
A Metro section-front story reports how Espina’s son, Manuel de Jesus Espina Jacome, who watched his father die, stood up at a community meeting last week and asked county police officials: “What are you doing with assassin police officers?”
It’s not the first time Jackson’s version of an arrest didn’t jibe with other facts.
The Post has another story today about a traffic stop Jackson made in Hyattsville in May last year that led to the arrest of Shawn M. Leake. In his report, Jackson said Leake came out of his car swinging and “even tackled me to the ground.” The only problem is the police video, obtained by Leake’s lawyer and given to the Post, shows Jackson pulling Leake out of the car, slugging him and throwing him to the ground.
County prosecutors dropped the charges against Leake. Nevertheless, Jackson was cleared by an internal police investigation.
About three months after arresting Leake, Jackson shot and killed Espina while moonlighting as a security guard at the apartment complex where the confrontation occurred. Jackson has maintained that Espina was violently resisting arrest. But his son and another witness allege he was on the ground and not trying to fight back when the officer beat him and then pulled the trigger. While he wasn’t on the police payroll that night, Jackson is still on administrative duty until the internal inquiry into Espina’s death wraps. That investigation has dragged on for so long one can’t help but question whether the department is waiting for the case to fade from public view before deciding Jackson’s fate.
It makes you wonder what’s going on inside the P.G. County police force. Two other officers are also on administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation into another traffic-stop incident involving a Latino, the Post reports.
Today’s Post goes through the motions of listing “signs” that police and the Latino community are rebuilding their tattered relationship. But it smacks of public relations spin. The fact that Jackson remains on the force nearly a year after Espina’s death – especially since it wasn’t the first time his version of events clashed with other evidence – seems sign enough that little has changed.