Suspect in police shooting was bipolar, guardian says

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Posted: Mar 15, 2016 3:32 PM
Suspect in police shooting was bipolar, guardian says

WASHINGTON (AP) — A man accused of shooting at a Maryland police station to provoke officers was diagnosed as bipolar and was intermittently homeless after his mother kicked him out of the house at age 16, his legal guardian said Tuesday.

Michael Ford, 22, remained hospitalized after he was shot during the gunbattle with police on Sunday afternoon outside a station in Landover, a Washington suburb. Prince George's County Detective Jacai Colson, who was wearing civilian clothes when he began firing back at Ford, was inadvertently killed by one of his fellow officers, the county's police chief said.

Ford's two brothers — Malik, 21, and Elijah, 18 — drove him to the police station and used cellphones to record video of the firefight, according to police. They also made a video of Michael's "last will and testament" minutes before the shooting started, police said.

A court document provided to The Associated Press on Tuesday by prosecutors said that during the shooting, officers asked Malik and Elijah Ford, who were sitting in a car, where the shooter was. The document said Malik Ford shouted he didn't know, even though video shows he could see his brother hiding behind a police van.

The three brothers face numerous charges including attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Malik and Elijah were scheduled for bond review hearings on Wednesday. Michael has not been formally charged.

Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said he couldn't explain the "frightening" actions of the shooter or his brothers.

"It doesn't make any sense," Stawinski said.

Hyacinth Tucker, 40, the owner of an event-planning business in Hyattsville, became Michael Ford's legal guardian when he was 16 after his mother kicked him out, she said. Tucker told The Associated Press that Ford, who was a high school friend of her son's, received Social Security disability payments because of his bipolar disorder. She said his checks were sent to her house and that she helped him with doctor visits and other paperwork.

"He's been through some tough times," Tucker said. "There were some times he didn't eat" because he couldn't afford food, she said.

Tucker also hired a lawyer for him after he was charged with gun possession in neighboring Montgomery County in 2013, a charge that was later dropped.

Tucker said she spoke by phone with Ford last week and he told her he needed to see her in person, but she said she didn't have time to meet him. She said he stopped by her house on Saturday, the day before the shooting, but she wasn't home.

"I still hold a little bit of guilt for not being available to talk to him, because over these past four-to-five years he's been able to talk to me," Tucker said Tuesday.

Tucker said Ford had a difficult relationship with his mother, and she said Ford's two brothers were also forced to leave the family home when they were teenagers. She said she occasionally helped them out financially and that Elijah, who's a senior in high school, recently called her for help with some graduation-related expenses.

She said the Ford brothers' father was part of their lives and that Michael stayed with him intermittently but that "he wasn't an option" when Michael became homeless.

One thing that didn't make sense to Tucker: a report by the sheriff's office in Greenville, South Carolina, that Michael Ford was being sought for allegedly assaulting his wife there early Saturday morning. She said she was not aware that Ford was married or that he had been in South Carolina.

Tucker said she never saw Ford have any psychotic episodes and she wasn't sure if he was taking any medication for his bipolar disorder. She was shocked by the allegations and said she didn't see violent tendencies in any of the young men.

"Being nice boys who were just in a bad situation — everyone was polite, everyone was well-mannered," she said.

The Ford brothers' mother, Lisa Ford, did not return telephone messages. An aunt of the three men, Shante Ramos, told The Washington Post that Lisa Ford suffered a heart attack after police burst into her home to search it.

Ramos did not return multiple messages from the AP. A person who answered the door at her home on Monday identified himself as an attorney for the family but did not give his name and declined to be interviewed.

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Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols . His work can be found at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols .

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Associated Press Writers Juliet Linderman in Baltimore and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.