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No federal charges for officers involved in McDole shooting

Delaware Public Media

The Wilmington police officers involved in the shooting death of Jeremy McDole will not face any federal charges.

The U.S. Dept of Justice says there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against the four officers who shot and killed the wheelchair bound McDole in September 2015.

In a release Friday, the Justice Department says it determined the evidence does not indicate that the officers willfully used excessive force in shooting 28 year old McDole. Federal authorities must show that an officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids to file civil rights charges.

The DOJ release says cell phone video of the shooting enhanced by the FBI, witness accounts and physical evidence corroborate the officers version of events and claims they claims that they shot McDole in self-defense and in defense of nearby civilians and fellow officers.

DOJ officials say the FBI enhanced cell phone video shows McDole waving his hands and reaching for his waistband as officers yell for him show his hands and drop his gun.  It does not show McDole as the first shotgun blast is fired or as subsequent shots are fired, but DOJ says other law enforcement officers and civilian witness corroborate the officers’ claim that McDole failed to respond to law enforcement commands and continued moving his hands around his waistband when the shots were fired.

DOJ also notes the investigation found McDole’s DNA was located on the grip of the handgun recovered from his waistband and that there was gunshot residue was on McDole’s right palm and shirt sleeve. 

The Justice Department says officials from the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI met with representatives of the McDole family Friday to inform them of the decision.

McDole’s family settled its lawsuit against the officer and the City of Wilmington last month, agreeing to dismiss all claims in the case in exchange for $1.5 million and a commitment from the city to meet with them and consider their suggestions as the police department reviews its use of force policy and training of officers in de-escalation procedures.

A hearing to get the court’s approval of that settlement is scheduled for Tuesday.

Last year, Delaware’s Department of Justice also decided against filing charges in the case, but singled out one officer - Cpl. Joseph Dellose  - for “extraordinarily poor police work.”  It also found “serious deficiencies” with how Wilmington Police prepares its officers for situations like the one involving McDole.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
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