Three Troopers Cleared In Dover-Area Non-Fatal Use Of Deadly Force

A police Use of Force Investigation conducted by the Attorney Generals office has cleared three Delaware State Police Troopers in a December 2020 non-fatal shooting.

Below is the report’s conclusion and a link to the full report.

The State must determine whether the use of deadly force by the DSP Troopers constitutes a criminal act. Title 11 Section 464 of the Delaware Code defines the legal use of force in self- protection. It provides, in pertinent part, that “[t]he use of deadly force is justifiable under this section if the [officer] believes that such force is necessary to protect the [officer] against death or serious physical injury.”3 In a criminal case, the State must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an officer’s use of deadly force was not justified under Title 11 Section 465, use of force for the protection of other persons.4

Under Delaware law, the state of mind of the law enforcement officer must be considered when determining whether the use of force was justifiable against another person. The specific factual inquiry is two-pronged. The first question is whether the Troopers actually believed, at the time they intentionally fired their weapons, that such action was necessary to protect themselves or others from death or serious physical injury. The second question is whether the Troopers were reckless or negligent in having such belief, or in acquiring or failing to acquire any knowledge or belief, which is material to the justifiability of the use of force. 11 Del. C. § 470(a). If such force is determined to have been justified, the law requires an examination into whether such force negligently or recklessly created injury or risk of injury to innocent third parties pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 470(b).

Each of the three Troopers believed that their actions were necessary to protect themselves from serious physical injury or death. Cochran was armed, disobeyed police commands, and fired multiple times in the direction of the Troopers. As he attempted to flee, and after he already fired at other police officers, Cochran raised his gun toward Trooper Green, prompting Trooper Green to fire his rifle in response. Neither of Trooper Green’s rifle rounds struck Cochran.

Witnesses described Cochran as having been armed and in an agitated state prior to police arrival. Cochran was witnessed using drugs, believed to be drunk, and his toxicology report shows a significant quantity of alcohol in his system. Cochran’s state of mind as reported by witnesses was apparent when he said he was going to have a “shootout” and “the cops are going to kill me tonight.”

The police were not reckless or negligent in forming the belief that deadly force was immediately necessary in this case. Trooper Cary saw an armed, fleeing suspect, gave Cochran

commands to drop his gun, and then Cochran began firing at him. Cochran continued to fire after the police returned fire. Each of Cochran’s gunshots demonstrated his intent to kill or seriously injure the police.

Because the police were justified to use force pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 464, we further determine that they were not negligent or reckless in injuring or creating a risk of injury to third persons under 11 Del. C. § 470(b). No third persons were injured and the police took reasonable measures to only use force when necessary.

Finally, SB 148 now requires as a matter of law that, if DCRPT issues a public report on the use of force, the report must include the race of the law enforcement officer who used force, the race of the individual on whom force was used, and whether race was a relevant or motivating factor. Cochran, the person against whom force was used, is a white male. Trooper Cary is a white male, Trooper Billy-Attoh is a black male, and Trooper Green is a white male. Race was not a relevant or motivating factor.5 The relevant and motivating factors to the use of force here were the reasonable belief that force was necessary due to the substantial risk of death to others that Cochran posed.

Upon careful consideration of the available evidence and the application of expert opinion to that evidence, Troopers Cary, Billy-Attoh, and Green all reasonably believed that the use of deadly force upon Cochran was immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting themselves and others. For these reasons, the Department of Justice concludes the use of deadly force in this case does not constitute a criminal offense under the laws of the State of Delaware.

Read Full Report Here

Original Story

Viola- Delaware State Police arrested 28-year-old Ronald Cochran of Viola, for attempted murder and related charges following an officer-involved shooting incident Wednesday night, according to Public Information Officer, Corporal/1 Jason Hatchell.

Hatchell said on December 30, 2020, at approximately 5:32 p.m., troopers were dispatched to 201 East Evens Drive, Viola in reference to a disorderly subject with a gun. Upon arrival, troopers located a witness at the residence who advised the suspect, Ronald Cochran, was inside the bathroom of the residence with a gun stating he was going to shoot up the place. Troopers gave commands to Cochran through an open exterior door to exit the residence, but he fled up the stairs to the second story.

Cochran then climbed out of a second-story window onto the roof of the first floor and fired two gunshots towards two troopers on scene, according to Hatchell. Both troopers, a five-year veteran trooper and a one year of service trooper returned fire. Cochran made his way to the west side of the residence where he jumped to the ground and ran to the front of the residence. Once at the front of the residence, Cochran pointed his weapon at a third trooper who was covering the front of the residence, added Hatchell. The three years of service trooper then fired a round towards Cochran. Cochran fled to a residence approximately 100 yards from 201 East Evens Drive and laid on the porch of the residence suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper extremities.

Troopers quickly responded to that residence and rendered first aid to Cochran. Upon contact, troopers discovered Cochran was still in possession of a .40 caliber handgun. Cochran suffered gunshot wounds to the right bicep and right shoulder. He was treated and released from an area hospital.

No troopers were injured in the incident.

Cochran was released from the hospital and transported to Delaware State Police Troop 3, where he was charged with the following crimes:

Attempted Murder 1st Degree (felony) – 2 counts
Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited (felony)
Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony (felony) – 3 counts
Reckless Endangering 1st Degree
Cochran was arraigned in the Justice of the Peace Court #7 and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on an $168,000.00 cash bond.

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