Po­lice shoot­ing in fo­cus

Video sheds new light, but ques­tions per­sist



— A now-re­tired Mary­land State Po­lice trooper who fa­tally shot a wanted man dur­ing a strug­gle in the Wal­mart park­ing lot near North East in Au­gust 2015 did not im­me­di­ately ren­der med­i­cal as­sis­tance to that man — although eye­wit­nesses in­di­cated and a video shows that he ap­peared to be alive in the mo­ments after the shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to docu-


ments and footage re­leased by MSP.

How­ever, those wit­nesses also told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that now-re­tired MSP Trooper Daryl K. Brack­ett was dis­tracted by the sus­pect’s hys­ter­i­cal wife in the mo­ments after shoot­ing Charles Sa­muel Hall, 30, of North East.

The re­leased video shows Brack­ett and then an­other trooper try­ing to keep the woman at bay.

On Monday, at the con­clu­sion of an In­ter­nal Af­fairs Unit in­ves­ti­ga­tion, MSP of­fi­cials pub­li­cized sum­maries

of eye­wit­ness ac­counts and a re­cap of Brack­ett’s ver­sion, in ad­di­tion to video gleaned from an ex­te­rior Wal­mart sur­veil­lance cam­era and an MSP dash­board cam­era. Au­topsy find­ings and other doc­u­ments also were re­leased.

But those of­fi­cials are not at lib­erty to re­veal the out­come of the IAU probe, which was aimed at de­ter­min­ing if Brack­ett had ad­hered to agency “rules, reg­u­la­tions and poli­cies” dur­ing the in­ci­dent in which Hall was fa­tally shot by him about 8:45 p.m. Aug. 21, 2015, in the North­east Plaza park­ing lot, a short dis­tance from Wal­mart’s Home & Liv­ing en­trance at the south­ern end of the store.

“I am not able to say one way or an­other what the find­ings are,” Greg Ship­ley, an MSP spokesman, told the Whig on Monday night, sev­eral hours after he had is­sued a press re­lease ex­plain­ing, “The IAU in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­fi­den­tial un­der Mary­land per­son­nel law and find­ings of that in­ves­ti­ga­tion can­not be dis­closed.”

MSP of­fi­cials also re­ported that Brack­ett had re­tired from the force on May 1. At the time of the fa­tal po­li­cein­volved shoot­ing, Brack­ett was a three-year vet­eran as­signed to the North East Bar­rack.

The Whig was un­able to reach Brack­ett since the video’s re­lease, but the former trooper told the Bal­ti­more Sun on Monday that he served six years in the Army and was de­ployed to Iraq in 2011. Brack­ett told the news­pa­per that the in­ci­dent had wors­ened his post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der and that, cou­pled with threats against him and his fam­ily, led to his re­tire­ment.

In the writ­ten state­ment re­leased Monday, MSP of­fi­cials also re­vealed that a civil law­suit is un­der­way, but they did not spec­ify.

In Novem­ber, after re­view- ing re­ports filed by in­ves­ti­ga­tors and other ev­i­dence, the Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice cleared Brack­ett of any crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing, con­clud­ing that he had acted in self-de­fense and that the shoot­ing was “jus­ti­fied.”

The MSP IAU started its probe to de­ter­mine if Brack­ett had vi­o­lated any de­part­men­tal poli­cies and pro­ce­dures after the CCSAO had re­leased its find­ings, Ship­ley said. It is com­mon for an IAU probe to start after prose­cu­tors have de­ter­mined whether the law en­force­ment of­fi­cer in ques­tion had vi­o­lated any crim­i­nal laws, he added.

A trooper charged ad­min­is­tra­tively of vi­o­lat­ing agency reg­u­la­tions and then found guilty by a de­part­men­tal hear­ing board could face a wide range of dis­ci­plinary ac­tion, from re­ceiv­ing a writ­ten rep­ri­mand to dis­missal from the force, ac­cord­ing to Ship­ley.

In the writ­ten state­ment, po­lice of­fi­cials ex­plain, “The Mary­land State Po­lice has a clear pol­icy con­cern­ing the use of deadly force. That pol­icy de­tails when deadly force may be used and what a trooper’s du­ties are fol­low­ing the use of deadly force. Troop­ers re­ceive train­ing about the use of deadly force an­nu­ally.”

The MSP op­er­a­tions di­rec­tive ad­dress­ing the “use of deadly force” lists sev­eral in­stances when it can be used by a trooper, in­clud­ing selfde­fense and when “every other rea­son­able means of ef­fect­ing the ar­rest have been ex­hausted.”

It also ad­dresses re­quired “ac­tions after us­ing force,” in­clud­ing “se­cure the scene to the best of his abil­ity” and “ren­der aid within his level of train­ing.”

Although Brack­ett had re­tired more than five months ago, the IAU only re­cently com­pleted its ad­min­is­tra­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter, he noted.

The in­ci­dent Shortly after the fa­tal shoot­ing, MSP of­fi­cials pro­vided this gen­eral synop­sis of the in­ci­dent:

While driv­ing through the Wal­mart park­ing lot, Brack­ett rec­og­nized Hall and knew that he was wanted by the Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice for theft. Brack­ett parked his pa­trol car ad­ja­cent to Hall’s parked Chevro­let Equinox and at­tempted to ar­rest Hall, but the wanted man re­sisted and be­gan fight­ing with the trooper.

At some point, Hall got into his ve­hi­cle and be­gan to ac­cel­er­ate.

As Hall be­gan to ac­cel­er­ate, he still was strug­gling with Brack­ett, who was par­tially in­side the ve­hi­cle, fac­ing Hall. Fac­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing dragged by the ve­hi­cle or dis­armed, Brack­ett fired two shots into Hall with his agency-is­sued .40-cal­iber hand­gun at close range.

One bul­let struck Hall in the lower neck while the other hit him below his left armpit. Hall was pro­nounced dead at the scene at 9:09 p.m.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found a “large fold­ing knife” in­side the cen­ter con­sole of Hall’s ve­hi­cle. They also found heroin, co­caine and pre­scrip­tion oxy­codone in­side Hall’s ve­hi­cle. The videos One of the writ­ten doc­u­ments re­leased Monday is MSP Det. Sgt. David Sex­ton’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Wal­mart sur­veil­lance video, start­ing with Brack­ett pulling up to Hall’s ve­hi­cle and walk­ing over the Hall and his wife, who are load­ing pack­ages into the rear of their Equinox.

“I could see Brack­ett talk­ing to Hall and then Hall back­ing up and get­ting into the driver’s (seat). I then ob­served Brack­ett stand­ing be­side Hall be­tween the driver’s side door and Hall. Although it is dif­fi­cult to see in­side the driver’s com­part­ment, I could tell Trooper Brack­ett and Hall were hav­ing an al­ter­ca­tion. Hall’s ve­hi­cle then lurches for­ward, as if he is tak­ing off and it looked like Trooper Brack­ett was be­ing drug. The ve­hi­cle only trav­eled eight to 10 feet then stopped. It ap­pears Trooper Brack­ett is still figh­ing with Hall and then Trooper Brack­ett sud­denly backs out and tries to keep Hall’s wife away from the ve­hi­cle,” Sex­ton out­lines.

Sex­ton con­cludes the shoot­ing oc­curred sec­onds be­fore Brack­ett ex­ited the Equinox.

“Trooper Brack­ett was no longer con­cerned about Hall and more con­cerned about keep­ing (Hall’s) wife from the crime scene,” he re­views.

Sex­ton also viewed video taken from dash cam­era of MSP Trooper Jose Ru­bio, who ar­rived to as­sist Brack­ett, and it showed what oc­curred sec­onds after the shoot­ing.

“I ob­served Hall’s wife try­ing to go past Brack­ett to get to her hus­band and Brack­ett push­ing her away and telling Ru­bio to con­trol her. Trooper Brack­ett is then seen go­ing to Hall, who is in dis­tress and in­ca­pac­i­tated, and he seems to be talk­ing to him and us­ing his ra­dio. Trooper Brack­ett does not ap­pear to pro­vide any med­i­cal or life sav­ing tech­niques at this time and it is sev­eral min­utes be­fore an off-duty deputy who is an EMT ar­rives and as­sists the troop­ers,” Sex­ton ex­plains.

Eye­wit­ness ac­counts Brack­ett re­peat­edly or­dered Hall to stop strug­gling and warned Hall that he would shoot him if he didn’t com­ply, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral civil­ian eye­wit­nesses in­ter­viewed by MSP in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

“Once she heard Trooper Brack­ett yell, ‘ I’m go­ing to shoot you,’ she heard the shots about 30 sec­onds later. (The wit­ness) ex­plained, be­fore the shots were fired, Trooper Brack­ett was strug­gling with the driver ... (The wit­ness) fur­ther stated she saw a woman in a ban­dana yelling that the per­son (Hall) the trooper shot was her hus­band. I asked (the wit­ness) if she ob­served troop­ers pro­vid­ing med­i­cal treat­ment to the driver and she ad­vised she only ob­served the medics ar­rive in an am­bu­lance and start to per­form CPR on him, once they pulled him from the car,” Sex­ton wrote in his synop­sis.

That woman also told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that “once crime scene per­son­nel ar­rived, she could not see what was hap­pen­ing, ex­cept for see­ing a woman in the crowd try to jump the po­lice line and at­tack a trooper,” Sex­ton noted in his synop­sis of her ac­count.

MSP in­ves­ti­ga­tors in­ter­viewed at least 11 civil­ian eye­wit­nesses who, at the time of the in­ci­dent, were lo­cated at var­i­ous van­tage points in the Wal­mart park­ing lot or in front of the store.

Their ac­counts are gen­er­ally con­sis­tent re­gard­ing Hall ig­nor­ing com­mands and warn­ings ut­tered by Brack­ett, Hall get­ting into the driver’s seat and then strug­gling with Brack­ett; the ve­hi­cle drag­ging Brack­ett when it moved for­ward and Brack­ett and other troop­ers not ren­der­ing aid to Hall after the shoot­ing.

There are in­con­sis­ten­cies, too. Mainly they re­late to the du­ra­tion of the en­tire in­ci­dent, rang­ing from a cou­ple of min­utes to 10 min­utes; how far the ve­hi­cle moved for­ward, rang­ing from 4 to 10 feet, and the time that tran­spired from Brack­ett’s last warn­ing and him fir­ing two rapid shots, rang­ing from a few sec­onds to 30 sec­onds. One wit­ness thought she heard “three or four” shots.

A dif­fer­ent ac­count The ac­count given by Hall’s wife, Me­gan Hall, was dif­fer­ent than the oth­ers. She was out­side the ve­hi­cle dur­ing the strug­gle.

Me­gan told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Hall started to get out of the driver’s seat “but be­gan wrestling with the trooper,” who then sat on Hall’s lap with his back to him after Hall fell back into the driver’s seat, ac­cord­ing to Tay­lor’s synop­sis.

At that point, ac­cord­ing to the synop­sis, Brack­ett dis­charged pep­per spray two times and it caused Hall to “floun­der around in the car.”

“As (Hall) be­gan vi­o­lently mov­ing in the driver’s seat, the car jumped ap­prox­i­mately three feet. Me­gan the­o­rized that (Hall’s) knee must have put the ve­hi­cle in gear. She stated that (Hall’s) hands were not on the steer­ing wheel. His hands were be­ing used to fight of the OC spray that al­legedly was de­ployed. When the ve­hi­cle stopped, the Trooper pulled his gun and stated, ‘I’m go­ing to shoot you.’ She claimed that (Hall) was not strug­gling with the Trooper dur­ing the in­ci­dent,” Tay­lor wrote.

She es­ti­mated that there was “a five sec­ond de­lay from the Trooper’s warn­ing un­til the shots were fired,” and main­tained that Brack­ett, with his back to Hall’s chest, “had to turn while sit­ting on Hall’s lap to fire his weapon,” ac­cord­ing to the synop­sis. She told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Brack­ett put the gun to Hall’s neck and then chest, fir­ing both times.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found no ev­i­dence in­side or out­side the ve­hi­cle that Brack­ett had dis­charged pep­per spray, how­ever, ac­cord­ing to the re­ports re­leased Monday. More­over, in­ves­ti­ga­tors weighed Brack­ett’s con­fis­cated pep­per spray can­is­ter and it weighed ap­prox­i­mately the same as a full pep­per spray can­is­ter, ac­cord­ing to those doc­u­ments.

Brack­ett’s ac­count Brack­ett told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he was “in fear for his life” dur­ing the strug­gle,” be­liev­ing that Hall was “go­ing to take off and crash this car,” so he pulled his gun and pointed it at Hall, ac­cord­ing to a synop­sis by Sex­ton.

“Hall reached up and grabbed onto the slide of his gun and pushed it back with enough force that he could see the end of the cas­ing and the primer of the live round in the cham­ber. Trooper Brack­ett ripped the gun out of Hall’s hand and shouted, ‘No Charles I’m go­ing to shoot you!’ ... Trooper Brack­ett felt the car take off at a high rate of speed and felt his legs drag­ging. At that point, Brack­ett pointed his gun at Hall and, just be­fore Hall tried to reach up and grab the gun again, Trooper Brack­ett fired one shot and then punched out (reloaded) and fired an­other shot,” Sex­ton wrote.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors later found Hall’s DNA on Brack­ett’s gun, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments re­leased Monday.

Brack­ett also told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that, im­me­di­ately after the shoot­ing, he could “feel Hall’s wife be­hind him and she was yelling at him, call­ing him a mur­derer and say­ing he shot an un­armed man. When she got too close, he put her down on the ground and in­structed Trooper Ru­bio, who had just ar­rived, to get her out of the area.”

Then he fo­cused on Hall, who was un­re­spon­sive.

“Trooper Brack­ett ad­vised he heard too many peo­ple around him scream­ing at him and waited for backup to ar­rive be­fore he could fo­cus his at­ten­tion on med­i­cal treat­ment for Hall be­cause he was still in fear and wanted the scene to be se­cure,” Sex­ton out­lined.

Asked by in­ves­ti­ga­tors if he could have sim­ply let go of Hall dur­ing the strug­gle, Brack­ett ex­plained he was think­ing about the lives of oth­ers in the area if there had been a car chase.

Asked if he could have used pep­per spray in­stead of his gun, Brack­ett replied that, in such close prox­im­ity, he would have felt the ef­fects, too, and would have been at a “tac­ti­cal dis­ad­van­tage.”


Mary­land State Po­lice de­tec­tives con­duct their crime scene in­ves­ti­ga­tion after a fa­tal po­lice-in­volved shoot­ing in the Wal­mart park­ing lot near North East in Au­gust 2015.


Mary­land State Po­lice re­leased dash cam­era footage from the 2015 fa­tal Wal­mart shoot­ing, which shows a de­lay in med­i­cal care from the trooper in ques­tion.

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