Another cop out of control, and another case demonstrating the importance of vastly improving our mental health care systems. This lawsuit will be won or settled for many thousands of dollars … YOUR tax money again being wasted; the whole thing could have been prevented.
Excerpts from the Article:
Kelly Rooks called Delaware State Police for help, but the officer who responded shot and killed her and broke her elderly mother’s hip, according to a complaint filed in federal court.
The 51-year-old Rooks was bipolar and had been experiencing severe paranoia the week before she died, calling Troop 5 in Bridgeville multiple times, the complaint says.
Most of the officers who responded “were nice and approached her carefully, understanding she had a mental illness,” and one even spoke to her psychiatrist, court documents say.
One trooper, however, “was hostile and aggressive” toward Kelly, according to the complaint, and he was one who responded March 25 after Kelly called because she thought she’d been poisoned.
A short time later, she was dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
Wilmington law firm Jacobs & Crumplar filed the lawsuit against a yet-to-be-named Delaware State Police trooper on July 12 on counts of excessive force, assault and battery, gross negligence and wrongful death. The suit is seeking punitive damages as well as funeral expenses.
The trooper is not known to the Rooks family because police records are protected in Delaware until an investigation into the use of force is completed. Instead, the lawsuit refers to him as John Doe.
Kelly’s brother, Raymond Rooks, is representing her estate in the lawsuit. Her mother is listed as a separate plaintiff.
Delaware State Police spokesman Gary Fournier said the trooper is still employed and on active duty but declined to otherwise comment on the lawsuit.
In the days following the shooting, Delaware State Police said they were dispatched to the scene to “assist medical personnel,” who were already at the residence when the woman “armed herself with a firearm” and “threatened” the troopers and medical professionals.
Rooks’ bipolar disorder surfaced about the time she was injured in a car accident, around 2015. The mental illness “substantially limited her in the performance of major life activities,” according to the complaint.
She appears to have lived a full life in spite of it. She worked for many years as a phlebotomist. Her longtime boyfriend, Robert Krause, lived at the Danny Drive residence with her. To her mother, Kelly Rooks was “beloved,” the complaint states.
“As a human being, she deserved better,” the Rooks family wrote in a statement issued shortly after the shooting.
Krause, who used a wheelchair, was at the home at the time of the shooting, along with Rooks’ mother, Geraldine Rooks.
When the trooper and medics arrived at about 7:30 p.m. March 25, a neighbor asked if Kelly had done anything wrong. The trooper, seeming “agitated or tired,” responded, “You tell me, I’ve got multiple calls from this address,” according to the complaint.
After the trooper entered the Rooks’ home without a warrant or announcing his presence, Kelly came out of her bedroom, court documents say, “rubbing her stomach and saying she needed to go to the hospital. She did not have a weapon.”
The situation escalated within two minutes of the trooper’s arrival, according to the complaint.
The trooper “was acting angry, hostile and aggressive. He was screaming, ‘What have we got here?’ Kelly asked him if Geraldine could go with her to the hospital. The angry, hostile … (trooper) aggressively screamed, ‘No!’
“Kelly and Geraldine felt they were not free to leave and that they were unable to decline (the trooper’s) requests or otherwise terminate the encounter. Geraldine walked toward her daughter to comfort her as she was obviously in mental distress that increased when (the trooper) screamed at her. … She was not disobeying any lawful command (the trooper) had given.”
That’s when the trooper shoved the 78-year-old Geraldine Rooks to the ground, breaking her hip, the complaint says, and Kelly Rooks ran to her room and grabbed a shotgun.
Both Krause and Geraldine Rooks were removed from the home before shots were fired, according to the complaint, and Geraldine Rooks was in the front yard when she saw the trooper point his gun at her daughter’s bedroom door and fire multiple times.
Three shots were fired through the door, which, based on the angle of the bullet holes, was closing or closed, the complaint says.
The complaint asserts that knowing Kelly was emotionally disturbed, the trooper should have proceeded slowly and with caution, using a calm voice. He failed to de-escalate the situation despite being trained to do so, and instead escalated it when he “provoked an otherwise static situation by his reckless tactical response,” the complaint says.
“The standard of care required a police officer, upon seeing Kelly retrieve a gun, (is) to get to a covered position, which was within (the trooper’s) ability,” the complaint states. “The situation was not so fluid or time dependent that Kelly could not have been talked down by a properly trained professional. A Crisis Intervention Team officer or negotiator specially trained in negotiation should have been employed.”
After shots were fired, backup arrived, parking along Danny Drive and the adjacent Airport Road. Two tanklike vehicles responded to the scene and a helicopter hovered above, according to the complaint. Neighbors were evacuated and police searched the woods surrounding Danny Drive.
Police cut a hole in the bottom of the home and ran a camera inside, presumably to see if Kelly was dead, the complaint says.
The activity lasted until after midnight.
Kelly died from her wounds at 9:47 p.m.