Erica Jones challenges the Milford Police Department's version of what happened the night they killed the father of her children.
The fiancée of a Milford man killed by police is now being represented by the same attorney co-representing the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
Twenty-seven-year-old Brandon D. Roberts died after being shot by Milford Police Department officers earlier this year.
The mother of his two children, Erica Jones, 29, said she began working with award-winning civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt in May. His office confirmed they have taken her on as a client. No lawsuit has been filed, but Jones said they are working toward that end.
She was previously represented by Wilmington attorney Thomas Neuberger, but did not say why she changed attorneys.
Jones was five months pregnant with Brandon Roberts’ second child on Jan. 5, 2020. Around 6:20 p.m. that night, the couple and their 1-year-old son were in Jones’ apartment at Silver Lake Apartment Complex on Linstone Lane. According to Delaware State Police, the Milford Police Department was dispatched to the residence “for a report of a domestic incident involving weapons.”
Jones said Roberts called 911 on himself. He suffered from bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and, Jones suspects, post-traumatic stress disorder.
“He was not in his right mind,” she said.
While acting as Jones’ attorney, Neuberger told The News Journal that Roberts told the 911 dispatcher “there was an ongoing domestic dispute at the apartment and that there was a gun.” He also said Jones took the phone from Roberts and told operators he was “having a mental breakdown” and he did not have a gun.
Jones said she and her son were in a bedroom when police came to the door.
According to a state police press release, as officers arrived at the apartment, Roberts came out into the hallway, “advancing” at police officers while “brandishing a large knife.” Both officers reacted by shooting him. Once he was incapacitated, “the officers immediately issued first aid.”
Roberts was pronounced dead at Bayhealth Sussex Campus.
The Milford police asked the Delaware State Police to investigate. State police say the investigation is still active and had no other comment. Milford Police Department officers declined to comment.
Jones disputes the police version of events. She said when police arrived, Brandon did have a knife, but he was shot immediately as he opened the door. She said he was shot in the head and killed instantly.
“He did not lunge at them. He didn’t even have a chance to raise his hand. It was less than three seconds,” Jones said. “I couldn’t believe they shot him and all he did was open the door.”
She still lives in the apartment. She wants desperately to move.
Jones gave birth to their second child in April, but the last four months of her pregnancy were rough. She said she was suicidal, didn’t leave her room for weeks at a time and barely ate.
“It’s been really traumatic for me. I had to go through being pregnant and I was depressed and crying all the time. I just couldn’t get right. There were multiple times I just wanted to give up,” Jones said, overcome with emotion. “They took somebody’s father, somebody’s best friend, somebody’s loved one. They took everything and we can’t get that back.”
Jones has organized or participated in numerous protests and marches in his memory, many of which have been overseen by the Milford Police Department. She said they will not release to her the 911 call, the police report nor the officers’ body camera footage.
“They were afraid of him because of the color of his skin,” Jones said. “They know what they did was wrong and they’re trying to cover it up.”