(Reuters) - The Delaware Department of Justice criticized the conduct of Wilmington police who shot dead a wheelchair-bound black man last year, but decided against filing criminal charges against any officers in the death of 28-year-old Jeremy McDole.
The report singled out one officer for “extraordinarily poor police work” and said he should be removed from any job requiring him to carry a gun in public.
Felony charges against that officer were warranted but the state opted against prosecution upon determining it was unlikely to convict him at trial, according to the report.
Three other Wilmington officers were justified in firing their weapons, the report said, in part because of uncertainty over who fired the first shot.
Police killed McDole last September after responding to a call about a man in a wheelchair who had shot himself.
The shooting happened at a time of increased scrutiny over police violence in the United States following several high-profile police killings of unarmed black men.
McDole did have a gun, although it was apparently in his pants and not visible in a poor-quality cellphone video of the shooting.
That video shows Senior Corporal Joseph Dellose pointing a shotgun at the man and shouting, “show me your hands.” Almost immediately, Dellose fires a round that wounded McDole.
The officer continues to yell “show me your hands, drop the gun,” as do other officers on the scene.
About a minute after the first shot, as McDole reaches into his pants, police unload a volley of gunfire that kills him. McDole falls out of his wheelchair and into the street, where the report says police recovered a .38 that McDole had in his pants.
The report found “serious deficiencies” in how police were trained to deal with people with mental illness, disabilities, or cognitive impairments.
The report also faulted Dellose for immediately confronting McDole rather than communicating with other officers already on the scene and for firing his shotgun so soon after ordering McDole to “show me your hands.”
“Although DOJ is not able to pursue criminal charges against Senior Corporal Dellose, it is DOJ’s position that Senior Corporal Dellose’s conduct in this case was extraordinarily poor police work that endangered both the public and his fellow officers,” the report said.
“DOJ does not believe that Senior Corporal Dellose should be employed by the Wilmington Police Department in any role where he would be carrying a firearm in public.”
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Alan Crosby