Local probes end in police shooting of man in wheelchair

AP News
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Posted: May 03, 2016 7:20 PM

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Wilmington police have finished criminal and internal investigations into the fatal police shooting of a black man in a wheelchair, local officials said Tuesday, days after city attorneys asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the man's family.

Authorities said the Wilmington police department's criminal investigation into the September shooting of Jeremy McDole has concluded. The results have been submitted to the attorney general's office, which is conducting its own criminal investigation and will decide whether any of the four officers involved in the shooting will face criminal charges.

The results of the police department's criminal probe were not disclosed.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Dennis Williams said, meanwhile, that the police department's Office of Professional Standards also has finished a separate internal investigation to determine whether officers involved in the shooting complied with departmental rules and regulations governing the use of deadly force.

Spokeswoman Alexandra Coppadge declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Carl Kanefsky, a spokesman for Attorney General Matt Denn, said the criminal investigation by his agency's Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust is expected to be completed this month, and that a full report will be released publicly.

Tuesday's announcement comes after the city asked a federal judge on Friday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by McDole's family, arguing that McDole was armed with a gun and that officers acted properly. According to the city's court filing, McDole was armed with a revolver and had evidence of gunshot residue on his hand, contradicting claims by McDole's family, which had claimed he was unarmed and implied that police planted a gun on him after the shooting.

McDole was shot after police received a 911 call about a man who had shot himself and was still armed with a gun.

A bystander's cell phone footage shows officers repeatedly telling McDole to drop his weapon and raise his hands and McDole reaching for his waist area before shots erupt.

A police 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 after they went to render first aid.

Officials also said toxicology tests found evidence of marijuana and PCP, or "angel dust," in McDole's bloodstream.

But contrary to a 911 caller's report that McDole had shot himself, there was no evidence that any of his gunshot wounds came from the .38 caliber revolver, according to the affidavit.

Coppadge said last week that while the 911 caller told police that McDole had shot himself, other witnesses reported that McDole was firing a gun into the air.

The lawsuit by McDole's family claims, among other things, that he was the victim of intentional racial discrimination, and that the officers would not have shot a white person in such a situation. The city's court filing rejected any claim of racial discrimination.

Attorney for the city said in their court filings that McDole was given repeated commands to drop his gun and raise his hands.

Instead, according to attorneys for the city, McDole lifted the waistband of his pants with his left hand and shoved his right hand inside. As he started to pull his right hand out, three shots rang out, followed by several more.

The city's filing claims that the officers acted reasonably and feared for their lives and the lives of others.