DOVER, Del. (AP) - Four Delaware police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a black man in a wheelchair will not face criminal civil rights charges, U.S. Justice Department officials said Friday.
Jeremy McDole, 28, was shot by Wilmington police in September 2015 after they responded to a 911 call about an armed man who had fired a gun.
A bystander’s cell phone video shows officers repeatedly telling McDole, a career criminal who was paralyzed in a 2005 shooting, to drop his weapon and raise his hands. McDole can be seen reaching for his waist area before shots erupt.
Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware, the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division and the FBI met Friday with McDole’s grandmother, sisters and attorneys who have represented the family.
McDole’s mother, Phyllis, who is being held at the state women’s prison awaiting a hearing next week on a violation of probation charge, did not participate.
“They said they left no stone unturned…. There simply wasn’t enough evidence there to sustain a criminal charge,” said attorney Thomas Neuberger.
Neuberger said he’s satisfied that the federal investigation was thorough, but the family is “very disappointed.”
City of Wilmington officials agreed last month to a $1.5 million settlement with McDole’s family and acknowledged that reviews of police policies will include training on de-escalation techniques. A federal judge will hold a hearing Tuesday to consider whether to approve the settlement.
Authorities said that after a detailed review of police reports, law enforcement accounts, witness statements, dispatch logs, physical evidence reports, the autopsy report and an enhancement of the cell phone video, the evidence does not indicate that the four officers willfully used excessive force.
Witnesses corroborated the officers’ claim that McDole failed to respond to commands and continued moving his hands around his waistband when the shots were fired, authorities said in a news release. The investigation also revealed that McDole’s DNA was on the grip of a handgun recovered from his waistband, and that there was gunshot residue was on his right palm and shirt sleeve, they added.
“There is insufficient evidence to disprove the corporals’ claims that they shot McDole in self-defense and in defense of nearby civilians and fellow officers…. The testimonial, video and physical evidence corroborates the corporals’ version of the events,” the statement said.
The Delaware attorney general’s office concluded in a May report that criminal charges could not be brought against the four officers. The agency’s investigation found that six officers at the scene all reported seeing a gun in McDole’s pants after he was shot. Investigators determined that the same gun had been reported stolen.
A detective said in a court affidavit that officers found a .38 caliber revolver with four spent casings and two live rounds in McDole’s underwear. Officials also have said toxicology tests found evidence of marijuana and PCP, or “angel dust,” in McDole’s bloodstream.
The attorney general’s report cited an unnamed individual who told investigators that on the morning of the shooting, he had wheeled McDole to the “Browntown” section of Wilmington so that McDole could get a gun and PCP-laced cigarettes.
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