Four Indicted On Charges Relating To Murder of 15-Year-Old Brandon Wingo in Wilmington

Three men were indicted Monday for the murder of 15-year-old Brandon Wingo as he walked home from school on May 19, and a woman was indicted on related charges as well.

Kevon Harris-Dickerson, 20, of Newark, Zaahir Smith, 19, of Newark, and Diamonte Taylor, 18, of Wilmington, were indicted by a grand jury Monday for multiple charges including murder, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, and conspiracy. Police and prosecutors believe that all three men participated in the planning and aided in the commission of Brandon’s death.

The charges against the three men include gang participation as police and prosecutors believe that the three men were members of the Shoot To Kill, or STK, gang and that Brandon’s shooting was yet another violent act by the gang. In addition to charges related to Brandon Wingo’s murder on May 19, the indictment includes charges for crimes committed on May 3, May 5, May 16, May 30 and June 1, some of them as re-indictments now included as gang-related activity.

Latasha Pierce, 34, of Wilmington was indicted on charges related to providing a firearm to a person prohibited and falsely reporting it stolen to police.

“The case against these individuals continues to be built, but Wilmington Police and DOJ prosecutors felt there was probable cause for each charge, and it was necessary to bring these indictments now to try to disrupt some of the violence being perpetrated by gangs on Wilmington streets,” Attorney General Matt Denn said. “These indictments are the result of hard work by prosecutors like Deputy Attorneys General Mark Denney, Colleen Norris, Marc Petrucci and Cindy Hurlock, with support from DOJ staff Diane Madric and Sandra Colicchio, all in the New Castle County Criminal Division led by State Prosecutor Kathy Jennings and County Prosecutor Joe Grubb. The case was investigated with intrepid work by Thomas Curley, Mackenzie Kirlin, Peter Leccia and William Ball of Wilmington PD, along with Hector Garcia of New Castle County Police, and task forces from both the U.S. Marshal’s Office and federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms bureau.”

“The Wilmington Police Criminal Investigations Division works diligently to solve all homicides,” said Wilmington Police Chief Bobby L. Cummings. “As a result of the hard work put forward by our detectives and the Attorney General’s Office, we are pleased that indictments could be issued for the tragic taking of this young man’s life.”

At the time of the indictment, all three men were in custody on charges related to other incidents. Pierce was arrested this morning.

Bail hearings for Harris-Dickerson, Smith, and Taylor were held Wednesday June 22nd. Harris-Dickerson is being held on $1.5-million cash bail, Smith on $2-million cash bail, and Taylor on $1.5-million cash bail.

The indicted charges for each of the defendants are as follows:

Kevon Harris-Dickerson
Murder First Degree
Gang Participation
Possession of a Firearm During The Commission Of A Felony
Conspiracy First Degree
Conspiracy Second Degree
Possession Or Control Of A Firearm By A Person Prohibited
Aggravated Possession

Zaahir Smith
Murder First Degree
Gang Participation
Possession of a Firearm During The Commission Of A Felony – 3 counts
Conspiracy First Degree
Possession Or Control Of A Firearm By A Person Prohibited – 3 counts
Aggravated Menacing – 2 counts
Conspiracy Second Degree
Robbery First Degree
Carrying A Concealed Deadly Weapon
Possession Or Control of Ammunition By A Person Prohibited

Diamonte Taylor
Murder First Degree
Gang Participation
Possession of a Firearm During The Commission Of A Felony – 5 counts
Conspiracy First Degree
Possession Or Control Of A Firearm By A Person Prohibited
Aggravated Menacing – 2 counts
Conspiracy Second Degree
Assault First Degree – 2 counts
Robbery First Degree
Reckless Endangering First Degree – 2 counts

Latasha Pierce
Giving A Firearm To A Person Prohibited
Conspiracy Second Degree
Falsely Reporting An Incident
Providing A False Statement To Law Enforcement

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

DOJ Releases Report on Wilmington Police Use of Force

The Delaware Department of Justice has released a report on the Wilmington Police Department use of force incident that resulted in the death of Jeremy McDole on September 23, 2015. The “Introduction and Summary” and “Scope of Investigation” segments of the report are below.

The full report and video, audio and photo evidence referenced in the report can be found at

Introduction and Summary

Four Wilmington Police Department officers shot Jeremy McDole on September 23, 2015. The Delaware Department of Justice (DOJ) undertook an investigation to determine whether any of the four officers should be charged with a criminal offense. As detailed in this report, DOJ also examined whether, notwithstanding any potential violations of criminal law, there were deficiencies in the Wilmington Police Department’s policies and/or training that should be corrected in light of Mr. McDole’s shooting, to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future.

• Our investigation revealed serious deficiencies in the way in which the Wilmington Police Department prepares its police officers to deal with situations like the one that Mr. McDole presented, specifically with regard to use of force policies and training and policies for dealing with individuals with mental illness, disabilities, or cognitive impairments. Most significantly, we find that the “continuum of force” provisions of the Wilmington Police Department’s use of force policy are effectively meaningless for police officers as currently written.

• With respect to three of the four officers – Senior Corporal (S/Cpl) Daniel Silva, Corporal (Cpl) Thomas Lynch, and Corporal (Cpl) James MacColl – DOJ did not find probable cause to charge them with a criminal offense. Through our investigation, we determined that these three officers believed – at the moment they discharged their firearms – that doing so was necessary to protect themselves, or others, against death or serious physical injury. Because of that belief, they were entitled under Delaware law to use deadly force to subdue Mr. McDole. Under Delaware’s deferential legal standard for the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer, their subjective belief that using deadly force was necessary to protect themselves or others immunizes them from criminal responsibility.

• With respect to the fourth police officer who discharged his firearm, Senior Corporal (S/Cpl) Joseph Dellose, the Attorney General did believe that the state should attempt to gather sufficient evidence to pursue a felony assault charge, based upon S/Cpl Dellose’s conduct in immediately confronting Mr. McDole rather than communicating with officers who S/Cpl Dellose knew were already on the scene, and discharging his shotgun in the manner that he did. However, after hiring a former federal prosecutor from Pennsylvania to prepare a case for possible criminal prosecution and after consulting with two nationally recognized police use-of-force experts who had recently recommended criminal charges against the Cleveland police officer who shot Tamir Rice, and after receiving opinions from both of those experts that S/Cpl Dellose’s actions did not constitute criminal conduct under the Delaware Code, DOJ concluded that it could not proceed with a criminal prosecution against S/Cpl Dellose given that the defense would present unchallenged expert testimony that S/Cpl Dellose’s conduct was reasonable.

• Although DOJ is not able to pursue criminal charges against S/Cpl Dellose, it is DOJ’s position that S/Cpl Dellose’s conduct in this case was extraordinarily poor police work that endangered both the public and his fellow officers. DOJ does not believe that S/Cpl Dellose should be employed by the Wilmington Police Department in any role where he would be carrying a firearm in public.

Scope of Investigation

The scope of the investigation into Mr. McDole’s death was much broader than the scope of prior investigations that have been undertaken by DOJ regarding police-involved shootings. There were a number of reasons for this. First, this case was the first police-involved shooting since Attorney General Denn assumed responsibility in January 2015 where there was a bona fide question as to whether the individual who was shot was armed with a weapon at or around the time of the shooting. This created a need for a broader factual investigation. Second, concerns were raised by Mr. McDole’s family as to (among other things) (1) the integrity of the scene of the shooting (and, in particular, whether evidence may have been placed at the scene by Wilmington Police Department officers), (2) the possibility of prior contact between Mr. McDole and one or more of the officers involved, and (3) the possibility of additional video of the incident. All of these issues had to be thoroughly investigated by DOJ investigators, in addition to their investigation of the shooting incident itself. Third, a decision was made early in the investigation that, notwithstanding any issues of criminal liability, the shooting raised serious questions about the Wilmington Police Department’s preparation of its officers, which DOJ should attempt to address through the use of outside experts for the future benefit of both the Wilmington Police Department and other Delaware police departments. All of these factors resulted in an investigation that was more extensive than other investigations of police-involved shootings.

Finally, the preliminary conclusion that DOJ should attempt to gather sufficient evidence to pursue a felony assault charge against S/Cpl Dellose required that DOJ (a) recruit, hire, and deputize a former federal prosecutor who was not a member of the Delaware bar to prepare the case for possible presentation to a Delaware grand jury, and (b) consult with two national experts with respect to police conduct who had supported criminal charges against a Cleveland police officer with respect to the shooting of Tamir Rice, in order to determine whether the facts collected by DOJ were sufficient to initiate a criminal prosecution against S/Cpl Dellose. DOJ first consulted with Jeffrey Noble, former Deputy Chief of the Irvine Police Department in California, who has been involved in over one thousand police use-of-force investigations and, in November 2015, authored an expert opinion on behalf of Tamir Rice’s family that criticized the expert opinions of the Cleveland District Attorney and argued that the Cleveland police officer who shot Tamir Rice should be held responsible for his death. After reviewing all of the materials in the McDole case, Mr. Noble told DOJ that, in his expert opinion, S/Cpl Dellose’s conduct did not violate Delaware’s criminal statute. After receiving Mr. Noble’s opinion, DOJ solicited a second opinion from Roger Clark, the former head of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s North Regional Surveillance and Apprehension Team. Mr. Clark has been retained as a consulting expert 1,400 times, the majority of times for cases involving the use of force, and like Mr. Noble, authored an expert opinion last year on behalf of Tamir Rice’s family that criticized the expert opinions of the Cleveland District Attorney and argued that the Cleveland police officer who shot Tamir Rice should be held responsible for his death. Like Mr. Noble, Mr. Clark reviewed all of the materials in this case, and told DOJ that, in his expert opinion, S/Cpl Dellose’s conduct did not violate Delaware’s criminal statute.

DOJ’s investigation included:

• In the days immediately after the shooting, a broad-based neighborhood canvass involving multiple DOJ investigators to locate eyewitnesses, video or audio evidence, or any other information that would help DOJ prosecutors to understand all relevant facts from the incident in which Mr. McDole was shot. This canvass was accompanied by a public request through traditional media and social media for persons with information to come forward.

• Ballistic evidence was analyzed by Carl M. Rone of the Delaware State Police Forensic Firearms Services Unit. The evidence itself was gathered by the Wilmington Police Department and the Delaware Division of Forensic Science from the crime scene.

• Performance of an autopsy by the Delaware Medical Examiner’s office. This autopsy, which was received by DOJ on January 28, 2016, included a post-mortem toxicology report.

• Interviews of Wilmington Police Department officers who were at the scene of Mr. McDole’s shooting and civilian witnesses. Some of these interviews were conducted by Wilmington Police Department officers and observed by DOJ investigators, others were conducted jointly between DOJ and WPD officers, and some were conducted by DOJ investigators outside the presence of WPD officers.

• Interviews by DOJ of members of Mr. McDole’s family (accompanied by their legal counsel), followed by interviews of persons identified by those family members as potentially having relevant knowledge.

• Subpoenaing and reviewing thousands of pages of documents from the Wilmington Police Department, and hundreds of pages of documents from other third parties.

• Microscopic examination of swabs taken from Mr. McDole’s hands by the R.J. Lee group, an independent laboratory. The swabs themselves were gathered by the Wilmington Police Department at the scene.

• Video evidence, including a version of the cell phone video processed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, providing a detailed review of the images captured by the cell phone video.

• Collection and review of video evidence from multiple stationary locations in the area of Mr. McDole’s shooting.

• Retention of experts in police policies and training to review the policies and trainings of the Wilmington Police Department, in order to identify any relevant deficiencies relating to the incident involving Mr. McDole.

• Retention of an attorney from the Pennsylvania bar (a former federal prosecutor) sworn as a Delaware DOJ Special Deputy Attorney General to prepare the case for possible prosecution, in order to avoid any real or perceived conflicts presented by DOJ prosecutors presenting a case involving criminal charges against a Wilmington Police Department officer.

• Retention of two national experts in police practices to determine whether, if charges were filed, the State could rebut expert testimony expected from the defendant officer with respect to the justification of his conduct under Title 11, Section 464 of the Delaware Code. As noted above, the national experts retained by DOJ were the two experts retained by Tamir Rice’s family who recommended criminal charges against a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio for the police shooting incident that led to Tamir Rice’s death.


46 Criminal Cases Against Members of Heroin Enterprise Successfully Prosecuted

“Operation Son Sun” investigation concludes with convictions of leaders of one of Delaware’s largest heroin trafficking organizations.

Attorney General Matt Denn joined with prosecutors and law enforcement officers from federal, state and local agencies to announce convictions of members of heroin trafficking organization.
Attorney General Matt Denn joined with prosecutors and law enforcement officers from federal, state and local agencies to announce convictions of members of heroin trafficking organization.

Joined by the local and federal law enforcement agencies who successfully worked together to bring down one of the largest heroin trafficking organizations in Delaware history, Attorney General Matt Denn announced Thursday that the prosecutions of “Operation Son Sun” defendants had concluded with guilty adjudications for 46 defendants and multiple-decade sentences for the leaders of the organization.

The successful prosecutions were highlighted by the recent sentencings of Andrew “Rock” Lloyd, 32, of Wilmington and Antoine “Flock” Miller, 35, of Wilmington.  Lloyd led one of the largest heroin trafficking organizations in Delaware history before it was shut down in December 2014, after a multi-agency investigation. Known as “Operation Son Sun,” the investigation included the Delaware Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration-Wilmington Office (DEA), the Wilmington Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the New Castle County Police Department, the Division of Probation and Parole, the Newark Police Department, and the Delaware State Police.

The final indictment charging 46 people was handed down on December 22, 2014.  One year later, all 46 persons indicted have pled guilty or been convicted of criminal offenses.  Lloyd was sentenced to 25 years in prison, followed by probation for charges of organized crime and racketeering, six counts of Tier Five heroin possession, six counts of Tier Four drug dealing heroin, drug dealing with an aggravating factor, Tier One drug possession with an aggravating factor, possession of drug paraphernalia, and eight counts of second degree conspiracy.  Miller was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by probation for charges of organized crime and racketeering, Tier Five heroin possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of second degree conspiracy.

“The successful resolutions to these cases sends a strong message that we will seek to prosecute not just the street-level dealers, but the organizational heads of drug-dealing operations in our state,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “These racketeering cases are notoriously hard to put together and present, and the fact that we were able to get convictions is in large part a credit to the front-line law enforcement work that was done.”

“The cases brought against this criminal enterprise demonstrates the strength of law enforcement’s dedication to stopping dangerous criminals in New Castle County.  This isn’t the end game for the FBI or our law enforcement partners.  We are continuing to go after the criminals who are creating violence and fear in our communities,” said Kevin Perkins, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Delaware.

“Andrew Lloyd and his associates were responsible for distributing large amounts of heroin and crack cocaine in Wilmington, Delaware. They destroyed numerous lives as a result of their drug-trafficking activities and were responsible for numerous shootings in furtherance of these same activities,” said Gary Tuggle, the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division.  “Joint investigations such as this, where we worked with our local, state, and federal law enforcement counterparts on a case that leads to this many arrests, drug, and firearms seizures has resulted in a significant increase in the quality of life for the residents of Wilmington.”

“Our hope is that the communities impacted by these folks are safer communities today because they were arrested and successfully prosecuted,” said Col. Nathaniel McQueen, Superintendent of the Delaware State Police. “It again shows what can be done when we all work together, and the folks that benefit from our working together are those impacted communities that we serve every day.”

“This operation was a multi-agency effort to combat drug sales throughout the state and the many communities within New Castle County,” said Col. Elmer Setting, Chief of the New Castle County Police. “The New Castle County Police were glad to assist in this operation with all of our resources needed to successfully put these individuals out of the drug sales business. This is empirical evidence of how all police agencies in the state can work together to accomplish a similar goal.”

“We continue to aggressively address crime through a multi-faceted approach including working together with local, State, and federal agencies to arrest and prosecute those individuals who are committing violent crimes in our city,” said Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings

“We appreciate the cooperation and partnership from the other law enforcement agencies that took part in this investigation, and we will continue our collaborative efforts to arrest and prosecute those who commit senseless acts of violence,” Denn said. “From the DOJ, I want to thank and commend Deputy Attorneys General Mark Denney, Julie Finocchiaro, Caterina Gatto, and John S. Taylor who handled the cases against all of the co-defendants. The prosecutors had a tremendous support team in paralegal Stefania Iannocco, administrative assistants Shannon Daniels, Tonya Kinsey, and Evelyn Davis and case processing unit members Diane Madric, Sandra Colicchio and Jeanne Kenney. I also want to recognize Kathy Jennings, our State Prosecutor, and Joe Grubb, the New Castle County Prosecutor, for the roles they played as well in these cases.”

Wilmington Man Indicted for 2008 Murder

Work on “cold case” leads to charges

Attorney General Matt Denn announced today that a New Castle County Grand Jury has handed down an indictment against Rydell Mills, 23, of Wilmington on charges of first degree murder and other firearms charges. The indictment comes over seven years after the date of the alleged murder.

Mills is charged with the shooting death of 26-year-old Jerome “Boomer” Green on February 3, 2008. Green was walking along the 300 block of East 23rd Street with his 9-year-old daughter when he was shot and killed.

The indictment comes as a result of regular cold case reviews initiated by the Department of Justice’s Homicide Unit, and the Wilmington Police Department. Detective Michael Gifford, Detective Robert Partlow, and Sergeant Gary Tabor of the Wilmington Police Department were the lead investigators in the case, and Deputy Attorneys General Mark Denney and Ipek Medford, and paralegal Jaime Prater headed the investigation for the Department of Justice.

“We do not give up on unsolved cases,” said Attorney General Denn. “We will do anything in our power to bring some comfort and closure to the families of victims, and bring those responsible for crimes to justice. We appreciate the cooperation of the Wilmington Police in helping us bring these charges and our partnership in working together to solve cold cases.”

Mills is currently serving a two year prison sentence for dealing heroin, violation of probation, and conspiracy to commit criminal racketeering. In addition to first degree murder, he was also indicted today on two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, and reckless endangering, all arising from the February 3, 2008 incident.

Delaware Department of Justice Statement on Officer-Involved Shooting

The Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust is investigating the officer-involved shooting on Wednesday in Wilmington and will determine whether the police officers acted in compliance with Delaware law. The Department of Justice reviews all cases where an officer discharges a firearm resulting in injury or death. This is an investigation that is separate from any internal Wilmington Police Department review. Investigators from the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust responded to the scene of the shooting on Wednesday afternoon and will observe and conduct witness interviews and examine evidence. The office will take these steps as quickly as possible in order to provide an account of the incident to the public. Making a determination about whether a person – including a police officer – should be criminally prosecuted under Delaware law is the responsibility of the Delaware Department of Justice and the department will make that determination following investigation in this case.

The Department of Justice wants to ensure that it hears from any person who has information about this incident. Anyone with direct information about this incident should call Special Investigator Frank Robinson at (302) 577-8707.