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Delware DOJ says police use of force against Viola man was justified

The gun used by Cochran in the shootout
Delaware Department of Justice
The gun used by Cochran in the shootout

The Delaware Department of Justice released a report involving the use of force by Delaware State Police last December.

State troopers responded to reports that a man had shot a gun inside a home in Viola. According to the report, witnesses say the suspect, Ronnie Cochran, was drunk and messing around with a gun inside the home.

Police say they attempted to get Cochran to surrender the weapon, but were met with gunfire. Police returned fire as Cochran ran to the second floor, jumped off the roof, and fled into the woods. He was later arrested at a neighbor's house.

Cochran sustained two gunshot wounds, but recovered after being taken to the Bayhealth Hospital in Dover.

The DOJ’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust determined the officers’ use of force was justified and legal because the troopers believed they needed to fire back to protect themselves from harm.

Because the shooting took place last December, the new use of force standards signed by Gov. John Carney in June were not in effect, which would only allow the use of force if the belief is reasonable, rather than put the justification in the hands of the officer.

The division also incorporated new reporting standards from lawmakers, finding that race was not a motivating factor in the shooting.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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