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Four Wilmington Police Department officers shot Jeremy McDole on September 23, 2015. The Delaware Department of Justice (DOJ) undertook an investigation to determine whether any of the four officers should be charged with a criminal offense. As detailed in this report, DOJ also examined whether, notwithstanding any potential violations of criminal law, there were deficiencies in the Wilmington Police Department’s policies and/or training that should be corrected in light of Mr. McDole’s shooting, to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future.
The scope of the investigation into Mr. McDole’s death was much broader than the scope of prior investigations that have been undertaken by DOJ regarding police-involved shootings. There were a number of reasons for this. First, this case was the first police-involved shooting since Attorney General Denn assumed responsibility in January 2015 where there was a bona fide question as to whether the individual who was shot was armed with a weapon at or around the time of the shooting. This created a need for a broader factual investigation. Second, concerns were raised by Mr. McDole’s family as to (among other things) (1) the integrity of the scene of the shooting (and, in particular, whether evidence may have been placed at the scene by Wilmington Police Department officers), (2) the possibility of prior contact between Mr. McDole and one or more of the officers involved, and (3) the possibility of additional video of the incident. All of these issues had to be thoroughly investigated by DOJ investigators, in addition to their investigation of the shooting incident itself. Third, a decision was made early in the investigation that, notwithstanding any issues of criminal liability, the shooting raised serious questions about the Wilmington Police Department’s preparation of its officers, which DOJ should attempt to address through the use of outside experts for the future benefit of both the Wilmington Police Department and other Delaware police departments. All of these factors resulted in an investigation that was more extensive than other investigations of police-involved shootings.
Finally, the preliminary conclusion that DOJ should attempt to gather sufficient evidence to pursue a felony assault charge against S/Cpl Dellose required that DOJ (a) recruit, hire, and deputize a former federal prosecutor who was not a member of the Delaware bar to prepare the case for possible presentation to a Delaware grand jury, and (b) consult with two national experts with respect to police conduct who had supported criminal charges against a Cleveland police officer with respect to the shooting of Tamir Rice, in order to determine whether the facts collected by DOJ were sufficient to initiate a criminal prosecution against S/Cpl Dellose. DOJ first consulted with Jeffrey Noble, former Deputy Chief of the Irvine Police Department in California, who has been involved in over one thousand police use-of-force investigations and, in November 2015, authored an expert opinion on behalf of Tamir Rice’s family that criticized the expert opinions of the Cleveland District Attorney and argued that the Cleveland police officer who shot Tamir Rice should be held responsible for his death. After reviewing all of the materials in the McDole case, Mr. Noble told DOJ that, in his expert opinion, S/Cpl Dellose’s conduct did not violate Delaware’s criminal statute. After receiving Mr. Noble’s opinion, DOJ solicited a second opinion from Roger Clark, the former head of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s North Regional Surveillance and Apprehension Team. Mr. Clark has been retained as a consulting expert 1,400 times, the majority of times for cases involving the use of force, and like Mr. Noble, authored an expert opinion last year on behalf of Tamir Rice’s family that criticized the expert opinions of the Cleveland District Attorney and argued that the Cleveland police officer who shot Tamir Rice should be held responsible for his death. Like Mr. Noble, Mr. Clark reviewed all of the materials in this case, and told DOJ that, in his expert opinion, S/Cpl Dellose’s conduct did not violate Delaware’s criminal statute.
DOJ’s investigation included:
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Original Cellphone Video – This is the footage of the incident that a witness recorded using a cellphone.
Processed Cellphone Video – This is footage recorded on the witness’ cellphone that has been processed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for detailed viewing of the incident, showing the movement of Mr. McDole in the moments just before the second shots fired by police.
Downtown Visions Camera – Surveillance video footage from a camera operated by Downtown Visions camera at the intersection of Second and North Rodney streets, which shows Mr. McDole intermittently in front of a home on Rodney Street at 11:59 a.m., 12:11 p.m., 12:32 p.m., 12:52 p.m., and 12:56 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2015.
Auto Zone – Surveillance camera footage from the Auto Zone store parking lot (1800 Lancaster Avenue), facing Lancaster Avenue from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2015. This camera does not have footage of the officers or Mr. McDole.
Euro Garage 1 – Surveillance video footage from the Eurocar 2000 auto repair shop at 100 S. Lincoln St. from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2015. This camera faces the intersection of South Lincoln and Tulip streets. Wilmington Police Officer Joseph Dellose is shown arriving on Tulip Street in his police car and exiting the vehicle, obtaining a shotgun and then running toward Mr. McDole (who is not visible) between 3:15 and 3:16 p.m.
Euro Garage 2 – Surveillance video footage from the Eurocar 2000 auto repair shop at 100 S. Lincoln St. from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2015. This camera faces Tulip Street. Wilmington Police Officer Joseph Dellose runs through the screen carrying his department-issued shotgun at 3:16 p.m. and other Wilmington officers are shown arriving shortly thereafter.
Euro Garage 3 – Surveillance video footage from the Eurocar 2000 auto repair shop at 100 S. Lincoln St. from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2015. This camera faces an alley and does not have footage of the officers or Mr. McDole.
Liberty Gas Station 1 – Surveillance video footage from the Liberty Gas Station, located at 1816 Lancaster Ave. Two of the feeds in this video are from cameras on the back of the gas station, facing Tulip Street. The footage shows onlookers and movements of Wilmington police officers, but does not show the incident or any footage of Mr. McDole. The feeds from the other two cameras in this footage show the gas station’s front entrance and pizza counter. The time stamp on these videos is several minutes behind those from Euro Garage.
Liberty Gas Station 2 – Surveillance video footage from the Liberty Gas Station, located at 1816 Lancaster Ave. This camera, stationed outside the gas station, shows the area around the front entrance to the gas station. There is no footage of the incident but does show individuals reacting after the incident. The time stamp on this video is several minutes behind those from Euro Garage.
Images taken from cellphone video that was enhanced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, showing Mr. McDole’s movements just before a fatal series of shots fired by police officers.
Audio of the 911 call made on September 23, 2015 by a woman shopping at AutoZone. Part of this audio file was previously released by Wilmington Police. Names of people the caller is speaking to at her location while she is on the call have been redacted.
Audio of communications between Wilmington Police dispatchers (WILCOM) and WPD officers starting from the first report of the incident with Mr. McDole and continuing for the period when the channel is restricted to only communications about the incident. It includes conversations leading up to the shooting of Mr. McDole and communications with officers on the scene afterwards, and ends when WILCOM returns the channel to citywide communications, however reports and transmissions about a second shooting incident in a different part of the city can be heard toward the end of the recording.