Four Wilmington Police officers fatally shot Jeremy McDole, who was in a wheelchair, on September 23, 2015. The McDole family’s attorneys said that Wilmington Police met with the family Tuesday and agreed to change some of its policies and adopt new regulations.
“I can tell you that on behalf of the family they are pleased,” said attorney Tom Neuberger. “It appears that Jeremy McDole will not have died in vain. The loss of his life, while it was tragic, will ensure greater protections for minority members and the poor who encounter Wilmington police officers on the street, and we are hoping this will do the same throughout the state.”
Neuberger said he has not yet seen the documents, but that WPD assured the McDole family it will adopt an objective use of force standard. It currently has a subjective use of force standard. WDEL reached out to the Wilmington Police Department for comment, and has not heard back.
“Our attorney general said that he could not indict Officer Joseph Dellose who shot and killed Jeremy McDole, because in Delaware we have a different standard,” said Neuberger. “It is not objective reasonableness, it is the subjective fears or thoughts of the officer. So, this gives patrolmen on the street anywhere a license to kill, because you can always say when you’re being investigated, I feared for my life and I thought I had to shoot him.”
A DOJ report did not find probable cause to charge three of the four officers involved in the shooting with a criminal offense. It did find cause with respect to Senior Corporal Joseph Dellose. According to the report: “the Attorney General did believe that the state should attempt to gather sufficient evidence to pursue a felony assault charge, based upon S/Cpl Dellose’s conduct…”
The Delaware Attorney General’s office had no comment on WPD’s new policies.
"It was 18 months ago when Jeremy McDole died after a 2 second warning. He was killed by a shotgun blast from a poorly trained Wilmington Police officer," said Neuberger.
Neuberger said the adoption of the objective use of force standard is critical.
“This means that no officer can say, ‘I was afraid. I thought I needed to use my weapon.’ Instead, considering all the circumstances, a reasonable person will have to agree that the officer was entitled to use force,” said Neuberger.
He said WPD also agreed for its officers to undergo training.
“All Wilmington police officers are going to undergo at least 6 and a half hours of annual training in de-escalation, dealing with mental health issues and the use of force,” said Neuberger.
Neuberger said they are optimistic.
“Very optimistic that perhaps here in Delaware, contrary to what’s been happening in other parts of the country, we will be turning a corner here,” said Neuberger, “and that minorities and the indigent poor among us will have protections with police encounters.”