Dept. of Justice: “use of deadly force does not constitute a criminal offense”

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The Delaware Department of Justice, Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust, has issued the final report arising out of the investigation of the use of deadly force by Corporal Nigel Golding and Patrolman Patrick Karpin against Brandon D. Roberts (referred to hereinafter as “Mr. Roberts”). 

The Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust reviewed evidence consisting of interviews of civilian witnesses, interviews of police witnesses, scene photos, 911 recordings, dispatch records, video footage (fixed cameras and police body-worn cameras), police reports, medical records, and the ballistics report.  Attorneys with the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust reviewed this use of force incident for the Department of Justice.

According to the report, on Sunday January 5, 2020 at approximately 6:23 P.M., Milford Police were dispatched to 21 Linstone Lane, Building 21 for a domestic-related assault in an unknown apartment.  Dispatch advised Officers en route to the location that the incident was possibly in Apartment 5 and that dispatch had received multiple 911 disconnected calls from that apartment.  Dispatch further advised that the female inside the apartment was pregnant and being held against her will – and that possible weapons were involved, including an AK-47 and a machete.  They also advised that the male inside the apartment was threatening violence to law enforcement and may have mental health issues.

 

Officers Golding and Karpin were the first on scene and entered the building while assisting Officers maintained a perimeter on the outside of the building.  Both Officers Golding and Karpin drew their service weapons and went upstairs where Apartment 5 was located.  From the hallway they could hear screaming and loud banging within the apartment.  Corporal Golding knocked on the door and announced that it was the Milford Police.  Several seconds later the apartment door partially opens, enough that Corporal Golding could see a male subject (later identified as Mr. Roberts) standing behind the door, but Corporal Golding could not see Mr. Roberts’ hands.

Corporal Golding commanded that Mr. Roberts show his hands as the door began to close, at which point Corporal Golding reached to open the door further.  Mr. Roberts then exited the apartment into the hallway towards Corporal Golding, with a butcher knife in his right hand.  Both officers had their firearms drawn when Mr. Roberts exited the apartment.  Corporal Golding reached out with his free (left) hand in an attempt to block Mr. Roberts from moving Mr. Roberts’ right hand (with the knife) towards Corporal Golding, but Corporal Golding missed.  Corporal Golding backed up and continued to issue the command to “raise your hands,” but he had no more room to retreat given the small confines of the hallway.  Mr. Roberts continued to advance on Corporal Golding, at which point both Corporal Golding and Patrolman Karpin opened fire.  Immediately prior to being shot, as he was exiting the apartment, Mr. Roberts shouted, “Shoot me.”

After the shooting, both Officers Golding and Karpin rendered medical aid to Mr. Roberts but were ultimately unsuccessful.  The encounter was captured on the body-worn cameras (BWC) worn by both Officers, which contained both audio and video of the incident.  Additionally, a surveillance video system in the apartment hallway captured the incident, but the surveillance is without audio.  The entire encounter occurred in less than ten (10) seconds, and it was only three (3) seconds from when Mr. Roberts initially opened the door to the shots being fired.

The Delaware Department of Justice report was to determine whether the use of deadly force by both Corporal Golding and Patrolman Karpin against Mr. Roberts was a criminal act.  

“Based on the available evidence and the application of expert opinion to that evidence, we have concluded that it was objectively reasonable for Corporal Golding and Patrolman Karpin to believe that the use of deadly force upon Mr. Roberts was immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting themselves,” stated the report from the Department of Justice. “For these reasons, the Department of Justice concludes the use of deadly force by Corporal Golding and Patrolman Karpin upon Mr. Roberts does not constitute a criminal offense under the laws of the State of Delaware.”

The report stated that the witness 5 told investigators that s/he heard someone say, “good job” after the shooting, however, the body camera audio does not support this.  The Department of Justice states that the “audio of the body cameras makes this moment sound like, “good shot” but what was being asked was “who shot?” which prompts Golding’s response, “both units.””

The full report form the Delaware Department of Justice can be found at https://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/publictrust/report-of-the-department-of-justice-on-january-5-2020-use-of-force-by-milford-police-department/?fbclid=IwAR3Chn3X3nkxrFAf8kpPu4XW4iBvAhI4K6IhKtLJm0Ey34cfS2Vpg9xLiwo.