Jea Street

New Castle County Councilman Jea Street has resigned as co-chair of the public safety committee effective immediately.

At Tuesday's public safety meeting, he said the New Castle County fatal police shooting of Lymond Moses was the final straw for him.

"As much as people say things change, they also stay the same. We're all products of our life's experience, and I simply can't be co-chair of public safety anymore. My conscious won't let me do it; where my heart is won't let me do it, and primarily because of the shooting Lymond Moses on January 13, in the city of Wilmington."

While Moses' shooting may have been in the impetus for Street's decision, the move was a culmination of what he called years of inaction. He called Moses' fatal shooting déjà vu.

"There's no reasonable justification, in my opinion, for the county police given the fact that we've got shootings and murders unsolved throughout the county, out of their jurisdiction in the city of Wilmington and it ends up with a use of deadly force," he said. "I go all the way back to when I was in high school and riots broke out in the 60s, and we looked up, here come the county police with long guns in riot gear. I was traumatized by it; it must have impacted me because 50-some years later I'm still talking about it. And there was no reason for the county police to be in Wilmington High School. The west side of Dupont Road is in the county, the east side here Wilmington High School is in the city. City police never showed up. To this day, there's no explanation why the county showed up."

"But that whole experience never went away from me. We couldn't leave the school. We were going to do a walk-out, and that never went away for me, and people don't understand, don't realize, it's still impacting me today. Because as Wilmington leadership met with school officials, and we prepared for implementation of the January 9, 1978 order, and we had to decide how we were going to police, city officials, including myself, city representatives, didn't ask, we demanded that the county police have absolutely nothing to do with our children. So today, when you see the predominance of our schools are in developments, where jurisdictionally, state police have jurisdiction, that was purposeful and intentional."

Street said he's been involved in cases of excessive force since at least 1979, and in all of those cases, he said no one has never been held accountable.

"Nobody's ever been held responsible, and everybody walked away," he said.

Street said he has no confidence that anything will change, and when investigations into the fatal shooting of Moses are complete, the result will be the same.

"There is no doubt in my mind that 90 days later that these officers will be cleared," said Street. "I think it's fundamentally unfair, and I don't see anything in the horizon that's going to be done about it. And yet we have a policy on our website that says, "Ban on shooting at moving vehicles," except when they're used for as a deadly weapon. Well, the body camera footage made it crystal clear...[news reports say] it appeared from the camera footage that one vehicle passed an officer and it was angled away from the second officer. So given our ban on shooting at moving vehicles, I don't understand why these officers are on administrative leave, and I don't even know why that's a question."

The councilman told WDEL he viewed the body camera footage just once and never wants to see it again.

"It was awful," he said.

He also pointed to ongoing efforts around police reforms in Dover, which he said have not involved "substantive discussions" regarding Title 11, Sections 464 and 467, and the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights,  shields officers from public scrutiny in investigations into use of force and potential disciplinary outcomes.

"Collectively, and individually, I believe these three titles violate the Equal Protection laws, and this camera footage--the McDole camera footage, the footage from the young man getting beat up by our police officers--I've got footage, and I think that's enough to make sure that these three titles have to withstand the constitutional test that they haven't withstood. I believe in my heart that they violate the equal protection clause, and I am going to do everything that I can to see that they at least meet the constitutional standard that they have not been required to meet to date."

Street told WDEL he's weighing the possibility of filing a lawsuit over the titles after previous efforts to implement change as co-chair of public safety have failed.

"When I went down to the General Assembly before I filed the education lawsuit, somebody said, 'well you're not going to come back here and threaten litigation.' I said I don't threaten litigation, I bring it. And this time, it's past time, that I have to take this another way, on another level." 

"Nothing's worked, nothings changed, and as far as I'm concerned, it's worse than it's ever been, and I just can't continue and won't continue in this capacity," he said.

County Council President Karen Hartley-Nagle asked for Street's resignation in writing.

"No I'm not putting it in writing, I quit." I'm not going to start playing little schoolboy games with you. I made it crystal clear to the whole world that I resigned and why."

Street previously said he wanted off the public safety committee after the state FOP endorsed former President Trump in the 2020 election. This time, he's staying on the committee, but not as co-chair.

"That made [the FOP] too happy for me at the time, so I did not [step away from the committee]. But at this point, I'm not comfortable. I've done everything I could possibly think of to work with the police and nothing works so I'm going to move forward in another direction," he told WDEL.