Maryland cop shot and killed by fellow officer in 'tragic' misunderstanding
Policeman wearing protective vest outdoors' (Shutterstock)

The shot that killed a Maryland plainclothes detective during a gunfight with a suspect with a history of mental illness was deliberately aimed at him by another officer in a "tragic" misunderstanding, a police official said on Wednesday.

Prince George's County Police Chief Henry Stawinski told reporters that the act was not malicious, and said on Twitter he did not believe the officer who fired the fatal shot had deliberately targeted a fellow officer.

"It's another tragic dimension to this unfolding story," Stawinski told a news conference. "The environment was incredibly chaotic. We had officers under fire immediately trying to seek cover."

On Sunday, Prince George's County Police Officer First Class Jacai Colson, 28, who was off duty, died following a gunfight that began when a man with a history of mental illness began shooting outside a police station near Washington, D.C., as his two brothers videotaped the action, authorities said.

Stawinski declined to say if Colson was mistaken for a suspect.

The accused gunman, 22-year-old Michael Ford of Landover, Maryland, faces 25 criminal counts in connection with the shooting, State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks told the news conference.

His brothers, 21-year-old Malik Ford and 18-year-old Elijah Ford, drove him to police headquarters and each face 10 charges, including three first-degree assault charges and six attempted murder charges, as well as conspiracy to commit murder, Alsobrooks said.

The three are being held without bond, she said.

There were six officers involved in the incident and some of them have not provided statements, officials said.

The entire department is receiving counseling, Stawinski said. Forensic analysis is expected to be concluded on Wednesday, he said.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)