Shoup’s death left father ‘disturbed and distraught’

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Ronald W. Shoup died in February 2014 while he was being held at Sussex Correctional Institute. A state autopsy revealed the 48-year-old’s death was a homicide caused by multiple blunt force injuries to the torso, lower and upper extremities. (Submitted photos/Delaware Department of Correction and Shoup family)

DOVER — Ronald C. Shoup had an inkling no criminal charges would follow his imprisoned son’s death in February 2014.

Nearing the end of a Delaware Department of Justice probe of inmate Ronald W. Shoup’s death at Sussex Correctional Institution, the father believed the incident involving guards likely would not be deemed a crime.

“About a month ago I was told by (someone) in the Attorney General’s office that no criminal charges would likely be filed,” Ronald C. Shoup said Wednesday. “But I was also told that the investigation was ongoing, the investigation ongoing, which was really frustrating at the same time.”

On Tuesday the Department of Justice said an investigation found no criminal charges were warranted regarding injuries Mr. Shoup suffered when he was removed from an infirmary cell by correctional officers in Georgetown on Feb. 27, 2014.

A state autopsy revealed the 48-year-old’s death was a homicide caused by multiple blunt force injuries to the torso, lower and upper extremities, which was confirmed by an independent review.

The department concluded one or more responding correctional officers were following policy and without criminal intent during the incident, which possibly was exacerbated by a lack of prompt and appropriate medical attention.

Mr. Shoup reportedly was agitated and aggressive within his cell beforehand, according to investigation. He was assessed to have mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and an injection of the sedative Ativan was deemed necessary.

In its publicly released report, the Department of Justice thanked the Shoup family for its patience while offering condolences, and noted the family has legal options through civil avenues.

Also, it said, the Delaware Department of Correction said operational procedure policy has been altered since the incident.

Lawyer Stephen Hampton said Tuesday a lawsuit in the manner would be filed soon.

If a lawsuit is successfully litigated, the Shoups — married for 51½ years, retired and now living in Cape Coral, Florida — hope their son’s nearly college-age daughter will benefit from the action.

“She needs to know that her father’s life was valued in some way,” Barbara Shoup said.

This week’s announcement brought no closure for Mr. Shoup.

“There’s no such thing as closure. Whoever made up that word has no idea what they were talking about,” he said. “We hope to move forward somehow, but there is no feeling of closure right now.”

The Shoups remember their son as a thoughtful, fun-loving person with a gift for cooking, a master chef at age 23, and a roofer who was devoted to his daughter. He also did odd jobs for Rehoboth Beach and Lewes senior citizens at a lower price because he had a soft spot for folks who were his parents’ age.

“My son was sick,” Mr. Shoup said, “He was an alcoholic with cirrhosis of the liver” that was in a severe state by October 2013, at least four months before his death.

“He had a serious disease that ran in the family,” his father said. “He went to a lot of rehab when he was younger, but that was it. He did the best he could.”

Facing multiple alcohol-related charges, arrests and convictions, the younger Shoup was held in jail at times, “but never for a long time,” according to his father.

“Even when he was drunk he didn’t cause any trouble,” his dad said. “He would go right to bed.”

The late Mr. Shoup also had cataract surgery three days before he was jailed at Sussex Correctional, according to his father, and was in need of eye drops for four days after his arrival.

“The cataract surgery just added to everything else he was going through,” his dad said.

Mr. Shoup was committed to the Georgetown facility after appearing at an arraignment regarding a DUI charge while intoxicated, the justice department report said.

Mr. Shoup said he’s “disturbed and distraught by the lack of criminal charges, medical care for Ron, the whole ball of wax.”

There’s not enough proper support for inmates in the throes of detoxification, he said. Furthermore, he remains skeptical whether any changes within the state’s system will be enough to prevent other tragedies.

“The hardest part of all this will be getting laws corrected so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Mr. Shoup said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think anything will change.”

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