Trooper cleared in death of suspect shot with stun gun

DOVER — A Delaware State Police corporal’s deployment of a TASER that eventually led to the death of a Milford man last winter was “not a criminal act because use of such force was justified,” according to the final report issued by the Delaware Department of Justice.

Lionel Waters, 35, of Milford, was arrested by Cpl. Lloyd M. McCann and Troopers Brian Hall and Andrew Osgood on Dec. 20, 2015, after he brandished a handgun while they were attempting to execute a warrant for another man’s arrest west of Milford.

Cpl. McCann deployed his TASER three times to “gain control of Mr. Waters,” who was holding a handgun during the confrontation.

The Delaware Department of Justice report said, “The facts developed during the investigation clearly establish that Cpl. McCann did not intend to cause death or serious physical injury. Rather, Cpl. McCann deliberately switched from his service pistol to his TASER with the specific intent of preventing the situation from escalating to deadly force.”

A police investigation into the incident revealed that the Dover Police Department had a pending warrant for Milford’s Richard Wilson, 36, for a criminal contempt of a domestic violence protective order (violation of protection from abuse order).

The state police attempted to serve the arrest warrant to Mr. Wilson on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2016, in the 600 block of Milford-Harrington Highway.

Police said when they arrived at the residence they saw an unknown black man inside. He was later identified as Mr. Waters, who would not provide any information as to his identity or allow troopers access to the residence.

The Delaware Department of Justice report said that “Cpl. McCann stated that the person at the window matched the photo [of Mr. Waters] that he had looked up on the way to the house. The Troopers reported that Mr. Waters responded argumentatively, used obscenities, told the Troopers that he was not the person they were looking for and told them to get off of his property.”

Troopers then began to depart the property and Waters opened the front door and said he had a weapon. Troopers demanded that he drop the weapon, which appeared to be a gun in his possession.

Following numerous requests for Waters to drop the firearm, he refused to comply. He then became agitated, aggressive and actively resisted arrest.

Cpl. McCann then deployed his Taser and was unable to successfully take Mr. Waters into custody. Fellow troopers assisted in taking him into custody as he continued to resist arrest.

Troopers called for an ambulance to respond due to the Taser deployment. Assisting troopers collected and secured the firearm.

Mr. Waters became unconscious at the scene and the troopers realized that he had gone into cardiac arrest and immediately began administering CPR and additional life-saving efforts until paramedics arrived.

Mr. Waters was then taken to Milford Memorial Hospital where he was listed in critical, but stable, condition. He was then transferred to the Hospice Center of Delaware where he died on Jan. 9, 2016.

Mr. Wilson was later taken into custody as he arrived at the residence several hours later. He was turned over to the Dover Police Department in reference to his outstanding arrest warrant.

The Department of Justice concluded that “the degree of force used in the case does not constitute a use of ‘deadly force’ as defined by Delaware law.

A TASER is defined in the criminal code as “a device intended to incapacitate a person, including but not limited to a neuromuscular incapacitation device.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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