A year after one-year-old boy was shot and killed by police, Maryland agency needs more time to finish probe

The State’s Attorney’s Office said Friday it needs “more time and resources” to investigate the actions of officers who shot and killed a one-year-old boy in Prince George’s County nearly a year ago.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the State’s Attorney said she couldn’t provide additional information regarding the extension request. The department has previously defended the decision to stop the investigation, saying it was not ready to make public any of the facts behind the shooting.

“We are at a critical stage in this investigation,” the spokeswoman, Susan Hofer, wrote in an email. “With more time and resources it is imperative to conduct an investigation involving multiple agencies, which is needed to make sure all leads are thoroughly explored.”

Loren Jones, 16 months old, was with his mother, Officer Nadja Reuben, 27, and friend Summer Torbenson, 11, at the Edenwald Apartments on W. Georgia Ave. on July 28, 2018.

As the mother picked the children up from the recreation center on the grounds, officers started approaching the trio from the perimeter of the complex. The shooting erupted during a brief confrontation between officers and the men.

The officer said he felt threatened by the group and shot Torbenson twice. Loren was shot once in the neck as officers tussled with him. He never had a chance to grab his mother’s gun.

The officers told the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia that they had an “altercation” with the pair and were attacked by Torbenson. Multiple witnesses said the men did not attack the officers, and law enforcement officers have not provided a specific version of events in an area where officers usually train weapons on trespassers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it reviewed all evidence and interviews and determined an investigation “does not warrant any criminal civil rights charges.”

Instead, the U.S. Attorney’s Office asked the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Office to conduct an independent investigation. Under Maryland’s Grand Jury Act, that investigation can include any witness statements of potential offenses by officers, but the findings of that investigation are not made public.

On Friday, the State’s Attorney’s Office said it needed “additional time and resources” to complete the criminal investigation. As a result, that investigation will continue, the office said.

Some public safety experts say investigations like this one can help save public dollars.

“You need to get the investigation done. To get the investigation done costs money,” said Duke Council, a spokesman for National Law Enforcement Partners, a nonprofit group that lobbies for policy changes designed to improve policing. “All police departments need to have a mature conversation about public relations and transparency.”

Council said he and his organization are expecting an abundance of lawsuits to follow the toddler’s death. He said such expensive lawsuits would more than pay for the cost of the investigation.

The Office of the State’s Attorney had said at the time of the shooting that it would not be releasing any information about the investigation until after it was completed. Hofer said the Office of the State’s Attorney has filed two motions since then to release the unredacted findings of the investigation. However, it still hasn’t disclosed any of the findings.

During the 12 months since Torbenson was killed, a lot has changed in the community surrounding the apartment complex. The Police Department announced it would reopen its investigation into the shooting, sending three detectives to the complex last month.

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