The Charles County Sheriff's Office has provided the following update of the status of its investigation of an officer-involved shooting that occurred on March 18.
The incident began at 7:15 a.m. when Officer James Thompson observed a suspicious vehicle while patrolling Zekiah Run Road in La Plata. The vehicle's reverse lights were on and it was backed over a curb and resting against an air conditioning unit, having nearly struck an apartment building. The suspect was slumped over the wheel.
Officer Thompson initiated an investigation and two other officers, Clint Walter and Jonathan Rager, responded to assist. The suspect exited the vehicle and produced identification. A computer check revealed that person's license was suspended. Officers conducted a series of field sobriety tests and determined the suspect was under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination. The officers attempted to place the suspect under arrest. As they were handcuffing the suspect, he pulled away and a violent struggle ensued, during which the suspect brandished a handgun and fired a shot. Officer Walter returned fire, striking the suspect in the chest.
Officers began first aid and called for an ambulance, which arrived about three minutes later. Paramedics began treating the suspect's injuries and quickly requested a helicopter, which flew the suspect to Prince George's Hospital Center. He was pronounced dead a short time later. Subsequent to the shooting, the involved officers were placed on routine paid administrative leave.
The identity of the suspect provided by witnesses at the scene contradicted the identity on the driver's license the suspect had provided to the original officers. The suspect was identified through fingerprints as Jonathan Zacharias Lyles, 24, of Oxon Hill.
As part of their investigation, detectives seized and searched the suspect's car, a Mercury sedan. During the search, they located marijuana in a sufficient quantity to indicate intent to distribute, crack cocaine, ecstasy pills, a vial of liquid PCP and scales and packaging materials, which also indicate distribution. Detectives also recovered a loaded magazine and ammunition for the handgun used during the shooting, as well as a second driver's license that was not issued to him.
After conducting a local and national computer inquiry, detectives discovered two open warrants for Lyles' arrest. One warrant was a Parole Retake Warrant for violating parole from a previous drug conviction and the second was for failure to appear in court for a narcotics charge in Prince Georges County.
The Charles County Sheriffs Office is preparing to address issues and concerns from the community by holding a community meeting. More details will follow when they are available.