DOVER, Del. - Police were justified in using deadly force against a former Marine whom officers were trying to arrest while investigating a motorcycle gang, state prosecutors said.
Derek J. Hale, 25, of Manassas, Va., was shot three times by Wilmington police Lt. William Browne on Nov. 6. Hale repeatedly ignored commands to take his hands out of his pockets, investigators said.
Despite repeated police attempts to shock him with a Taser gun, Hale "continued to keep his hand in his pocket as if holding a weapon and was turning in a threatening manner toward a nearby officer armed with an empty Taser," according to a report released Friday.
"That officer clearly believed he was in immediate danger and, thus, began an evasive move," deputy attorney general Eugene Hall wrote. "Lt. Browne believed that the use of deadly force was immediately necessary to prevent serious injury or death to that officer."
Investigators said there was no evidence that any of the three Taser darts found in Hale's clothing came into contact with his skin.
The number of Taser darts fired "may have appeared excessive to a layman," Hall wrote, but officers were trying to overcome Hale's resistance so he could be taken into custody without injury.
In response to the report, an attorney representing Hale's family in a wrongful-death lawsuit said voters should recall Attorney General Beau Biden for dereliction of duty.
"This is a shameless cover up because the use of deadly force was not justified," attorney Thomas Neuberger said.
The killing of Hale occurred toward the end of an 18-month Delaware State Police investigation of the Pagans Motorcycle Club that resulted in the arrests of several people on drug and weapons charges.
In their wrongful-death lawsuit, Hale's widow and parents contend that police failed to identify themselves after surrounding Hale, then used excessive force, even though there was no warrant for his arrest and he posed no threat.