A veteran D.C. police officer swept the streets of drug dealers so his friends could more easily rob one of their street rivals, authorities alleged.
The robbery went bad, and now authorities have charged the officer, 40-year-old Reggie Jones, with felony murder in the Dec. 1 shooting death of Arvell Alston. Jones came to work at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and was met by his chief, Cathy Lanier, and homicide detectives, who clapped him in handcuffs. D.C. police officials are now facing the possibility that a rogue cop acted as a street enforcer for a vicious drug crew, Lanier said Tuesday.
She acknowledged at a hastily called news conference Tuesday night that her internal affairs investigators are probing the possibility that Jones, a six-year veteran who worked in the gun recovery section of the department's major narcotics unit, also helped his friends and relatives in the crew tamper with evidence.
“The worst that a police officer can do is betray the public's trust, and this officer went well beyond that,” Lanier said. “This officer desecrated the very office he was sworn to uphold.”
Authorities don't believe Jones was involved in the gunfight. But under the felony murder laws, all conspirators to a crime that leads to murder can be held equally responsible. Lanier said Jones helped Alston and his crew — including Alston's son, Arvell Crawford — plot the robbery of the rival.
The rival's name was withheld because he's a key witness in the prosecution. A top law enforcement official told The Examiner that as Alston's crew moved into position about 9 p.m. on Dec. 1, Jones played his part in the scheme: He drove through the 4300 block of Fourth Street SE, the lights on his police cruiser flashing. The crew hoped the police car would scatter friends of their rival and make it easier to pull off the robbery. Instead a gunfight erupted. The robbery victim was wounded.
In the chaos, Crawford accidentally shot and killed his father, Lanier said. Crawford and his friends fled the scene. Police initially treated the case as a relatively straightforward street crime. That changed last Friday, when detectives arrested alleged crew member Rashun Montea Parker. Parker told astonished detectives that a cop had helped in the robbery.
Crawford was arrested a few hours before Jones came to work Tuesday, Lanier said. For some in law enforcement, the allegations against Jones brought up unpleasant memories of rampant corruption in the D.C. police department. In the early 1990s, more than two dozen officers were indicted on criminal charges, including veteran Fonda Moore, who was convicted of felony murder after prosecutors charged her with acting as an enforcer for a lethal drug crew in Southeast.