DC cop accused of being lookout for fatal robbery

AP News
Posted: Dec 17, 2009 8:37 PM

A police officer in the nation's capital is accused of being the lookout for a robbery that ended in the death of one of the suspects and driving away from the scene when a woman ran to his cruiser pleading for help.

Officer Reginald Jones of Upper Marlboro, Md., was arrested Tuesday when he reported for duty and was charged with felony murder in the Dec. 1 robbery.

Arvel Alston, 40, of Temple Hills, Md., was killed. Police say he and his son, Arvel Crawford, 19, were among the four robbers who got into a scuffle with the robbery target.

The teenager is also charged with felony murder, accused of firing gunshots that killed his father and injured the robbery victim.

Jones, 40, is a six-year veteran assigned to the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division. He appeared in court Wednesday and was ordered to be held without bond.

In a statement announcing Jones' arrest, Police Chief Cathy Lanier called his actions a "disgrace," saying the crime "is a betrayal of the community's trust and is an insult to the fine men and women of this department."

In an e-mail to The Associated Press on Thursday, Lanier said a "thorough review" is under way at the department.

"At this point, it appears this officer was a loner and did not closely associate with his co-workers," she said.

According to court documents, investigators said Jones attended a meeting with a group of men on Nov. 30 to plan the robbery and kidnapping of someone one of the men knew. Jones was wearing a bulletproof vest marked "police" during the meeting.

The next day, police said in an affidavit, a group of men got in Jones' cruiser and he drove them to the crime scene. When they arrived, they asked the officer to drive into a parking lot and clear out people in the area. The officer and another person then parked the cruiser near the entrance of the parking lot, "serving as lookouts and protection" for the four robbers, the affidavit said.

The victim, who was not identified, was walking to his car when several men approached him and he reported seeing a police cruiser in a nearby parking lot.

During the robbery, authorities said the perpetrators struggled with the victim, and Crawford fired, hitting his father, Alston. One of the shots also struck the robbery victim. Crawford ran to his father lying on the ground, urging him to "get up Dad, get up!"

Police said Jones told another person in his car as they heard the shots: "I'm either gonna have to leave the area or get out and start shooting." A woman ran toward Jones' patrol car trying to flag for help, but the officer drove off and left the area, investigators wrote in the affidavit.

A preliminary hearing for Jones is scheduled for Jan. 5 in D.C. Superior Court. Messages left for Jones' and Crawford's attorneys were not immediately returned.