Watch CBS News

Baltimore Police Officer Charged In Teen Stepson's Murder; Attorney Says He Wanted 'Suicide By Cop'; Wife 'Feared For Life' In Denied Protective Order

MILLERSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) -- Anne Arundel County Police have now charged Baltimore City Police officer Eric Banks Jr., the stepfather of 15-year-old Dasan Jones, with the teen's murder. It follows the medical examiner's finding the death was a homicide by asphyxiation.

Banks remains on the force with his police powers suspended and is being held at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.

"This is an absolutely heartbreaking, traumatic and horrific case. Our hearts ache for his grieving mother and his siblings," Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal Awad said.

On July 6, police found Dasan's body hidden in an attic crawlspace at Banks' townhome in Curtis Bay. Anne Arundel County's police chief told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren that Banks tried to cover it up.

"I can say with confidence that he was very deceptive," Awad said.

Charging documents obtained by WJZ revealed that Dasan had injuries to his neck, face and mouth. Police found his wet, bloody clothes smelling of bleach in a dresser drawer.

According to police, Banks became combative with a responding officer and tried to reach for the officer's gun.

"During this altercation with police, Mr. Banks said, and I quote, "My life is over. Choke me. Choke me. Choke me," said Justin Mulcahy, Anne Arundel County police spokesman.

Banks' attorney said his client plans to plead not guilty.

"My client adamantly denies being involved in the death of DJ," defense attorney Warren Brown told Hellgren.

"Circumstantially, we understand how the state's attorney's office can charge a homicide here. The issue is what gave rise to this asphyxiation — whether it was suicide or homicide," Brown said. "The young man and my client had spoken both in the past about suicide. In fact, when my client was arrested, he was attempting a suicide by cop hoping that he was going to get shot."

In charging documents, Dasan's mother said her son called her shortly before his death and there was no indication anything was wrong.

"It appears as though there was a panic. My client's position is he found his stepson dead and that he himself was anticipating committing suicide, wanting to be found with his stepson. When police came he was hoping they would come and go and he was going to commit suicide and be found next to his stepson," Brown said.

He said his client had a "very good relationship" with his stepson.

"The young man's mother was going to be moving to Arizona. Dasan did not want to go. He wanted to stay here. My client has raised him since he was a little kid," Brown said.

He said Banks suffered from mental health issues "borne out of service to his country in Afghanistan in combat. He saw horrible things, lost friends, saw people's legs blown off."

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison called Officer Banks' actions "shocking to the conscience. This is a classic example of why I have advocated for the autonomy and authority to terminate officers when they are facing heinous criminal allegations."

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott echoed that sentiment. "It's disgusting. It's a disgusting and cowardly act," he said.

Awad praised her officers' conduct at the scene of the killing.

"At any moment they could've accepted an answer that they were given [by Banks] and walked away, and they did not. They kept asking questions," she said.

Dasan's mother filed several protective orders against her husband, claiming he was dangerous and stalking her. She wrote, "I am in fear for my life and well-being because Eric Banks keeps trying to control, follow and emotionally abuse myself and my sons."

A judge denied the first one filed in late June.

A second-order was granted but was unable to be served because Banks was already in custody after the discovery of Dasan's body.

Banks' police powers had previously been suspended because of the protective order filing, Brown said.

Awad called for the community to "uplift" Dasan's mother and "wrap their arms around her."

More than $12,000 has been raised for the family.

Dasan loved to play the violin and was an honors student who had just completed his freshman year at Glen Burnie High School.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.