Clearwater suspect’s mom told witness to lie to cops after teen shot dead, police say

She is facing a felony charge of tampering with a witness.
Laquanda Lancaster is facing a charge of witness tampering.
Laquanda Lancaster is facing a charge of witness tampering. [ Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Feb. 7|Updated Feb. 7

The mother of a boy who has been arrested on a manslaughter charge in connection with the shooting death of another boy in Clearwater has been arrested on a felony charge of witness tampering.

The shooting occurred on Jan. 30 inside an apartment in the 1200 block of Engman Street, Clearwater police said.

Police said witnesses told them that the two boys, who are both 16, were “playfighting” and that one of the boys picked up a gun, which “went off during the physical exchange.”

Jacques Ford, 16, was shot and later died at Morton Plant Hospital. The boy who fired the gun was later arrested by police. The Tampa Bay Times is not naming the boy who was arrested because of his age and the fact that he is not at this point charged as an adult.

Police on Monday arrested Laquanda Lancaster, who they identified as Ford’s mother, on the witness tampering charge.

According to an arrest affidavit, Lancaster, 39, contacted the brother of a witness and told him “to be untruthful” about what happened.

“After speaking with the witness, the witness told a truthful recollection of events, contrary to what (Lancaster) instructed the witness to say,” the arrest affidavit states.

Police noted in the affidavit that Lancaster confessed to the tampering charge.

Lancaster was booked at the Pinellas County Jail. She was later released on $30,000 bail, records show.

An assistant public defender has been appointed to represent Lancaster and has entered a not guilty plea on her behalf, records show.