Trooper cleared in shooting of robbery suspect from Colora
— A Delaware State Police Trooper who shot an alleged robber from Cecil County last December was justified in his actions, according to a report released this week.
“The investigation of the facts and circumstances fully support the reasonableness of Tpr. [Pierre] Lawler’s belief that his life was in danger,” the report, issued by Attorney General Matt Denn’s office, reads. “That belief was not formed recklessly or negligently. As a result, the use of deadly force by the Trooper was justified and is not subject to criminal prosecution.”
The incident occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m.
Dec. 17 as Lawler responded to a call for a home invasion in the 300 block of Salem Church Road near Newark, Del. Upon arrival, Lawler approached the home, where he saw broken glass and a door that had been forced open.
Lawler entered through the open door and saw the victims lying face down in the living room. One of the suspects, James McCardell, 39, of Colora, emerged holding a handgun and moved quickly toward Lawler, according to the report.
Lawler fired one round and struck McCardell in the abdomen. The second suspect, Brian Richardson, of Philadelphia, complied with Lawler’s commands and laid down on the floor. Lawler held the two suspects at gunpoint until more officers arrived.
Investigators later recovered McCardell’s 9mm handgun loaded with eight rounds, according to the report.
McCardell recovered from his wounds and he and Richardson were both charged with attempted robbery, home invasion, aggravated menacing, conspiracy, possession of a firearm, wearing a disguise and endangering the welfare of a child.
The attorney general’s report noted that under Delaware law, whether a policeinvolved shooting is justified largely depends on whether the officer felt his or her life was threatened.
“The specific factual issue is whether the officer actually believed at the time that he intentionally fired his weapon that such action was necessary to protect himself or others from death or serious physical injury, so long as the officer was not 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,” the report reads.
“Tpr. Lawler was confronted with a subject moving quickly in his direction pointing a handgun at his head at the scene of an inprogress home invasion,” the report continues. “He fired his handgun with the intention of eliminating the threat presented and when that application of force was effective, he ceased his use of force.”