911 calls show chaos at fatal beating scene

17-year-old was attacked outside party in Pasadena

September 09, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

Tapes of 911 calls made to police the night that Noah Jamahl Jones died reveal a chaotic scene outside the Pasadena party where the 17-year-old was beaten more than six weeks ago.

According to the tape recording, a nervous caller reported that an armed group had shown up at a house in the 700 block of 205th St. and that he had been struck on the head with a pistol.

"There are guys standing outside my house and they're fighting. ... Hurry up! Hurry up!" he yelled before his phone cut off. The caller had phoned 911 moments earlier, but that conversation was cut short when his phone disconnected.

A few minutes later, at 11:02 p.m., another person called 911 to say that someone, presumably Jones, was lying in the street and might be dead.

"He's out. He's out. ... I don't know if he's got a pulse or not," the caller said, speaking over panicked voices in the background.

The tapes, which police have declined to release but which were played for a Sun reporter by a source close to the investigation, shed new light on an incident that has stirred racial tensions in the community and prompted calls for a federal civil rights investigation.

Anne Arundel County police initially charged four white men in the death of Jones, who is black. They dropped the charges after prosecutors concluded that an autopsy of Jones was "inconsistent" with the initial police assessment.

The Anne Arundel chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People subsequently called for a federal investigation into Jones' death, saying his civil rights might have been violated. Several members of Congress backed that request.

Anne Arundel State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee has convened a grand jury to hear testimony and determine whether charges should be filed in the case.

Transcripts of emergency radio transmissions from that night reveal that "CDS" -- a controlled dangerous substance -- was found at the scene. But the records do not show who was in possession of the illegal drugs.

Lt. Joseph Jordan, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County police, declined to comment on the 911 calls or whether drugs were found. He had no further comment about the department's work on the case.

The tape recording shows that the first emergency call to Anne Arundel County police was made at 10:56 p.m. July 24, when someone -- apparently the party's host -- called police and pleaded for help.

Speaking nervously and quickly, the caller asked for officers to be sent to an address in the 700 block of 205th St. His phone then cut out.

The dispatcher twice attempted to call back. At 10:58 p.m., she reached the caller and confirmed his address and that the situation was urgent.

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" he said, mentioning the fight before his phone cut off again.

At 10:59 p.m., the operator again tried to call him back. It was at this time -- with much prodding from the dispatcher -- that the man gave more information about the altercation between party guests and a group that included Jones.

"They're standing outside with guns. ... There's like ... eight of them," he said.

After the caller said he had been struck on the head, the dispatcher asked him, "Who hit you in the head with a gun?"

"I don't ... know them!" the caller shouted.

By then, officers had been sent to investigate what the transcript called an "unknown disturbance" at the home.

Police initially said witnesses identified Jones' attackers as Jacob Tyler Fortney of Pasadena, Richard Elbert McLeod of Chestertown, Joshua David Bradley of Pasadena and David Michael George of Glen Burnie, who range in age from 18 to 20.

Fortney's attorney, David Putzi, has said his client acted in self-defense. George's lawyer, Peter S. O'Neill, has said his client never struck the victim.

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