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Family of Pagan killed by police files lawsuit
Officers accused of using excessive force
On the afternoon he was killed, Hale was joined at the home by Sandra Lopez and her two young children, ages 11 and 6. Lopez had joint custody of the children after divorcing the homeowner, Raul Morales, 34, who was charged with drugs and weapons offenses in the Pagansâ€™ case.
When she found out Morales was in custody, she asked Hale to help her move some of her sonâ€™s belongings to her car.
While doing so, the family dogs escaped, and Hale ran up and down the street trying to corral the pets, the complaint states.
After loading her car, Lopez and Hale sat on the steps talking.
At the same time, a construction crew, Fred Mixson and his brother Harold, arrived next door while a state police surveillance team watched activities outside the home.
According to the complaint, the surveillance team observed:
â€¢ Lopezâ€™s arrival at the house, and the presence of her two young children who were playing on the front steps.
â€¢ Hale chasing the dogs down the street, â€œand that due to the nature of his clothing it was unlikely that he possessed a weapon in his sweatshirt pocket.â€
â€¢ Hale and Lopez talking and playing with the young children.
â€¢ Hale did not act in a threatening or suspicious manner.
â€¢ Hale did not display a weapon.
The complaint states that the surveillance team radioed their observations to an assault team of Wilmington cops and state troopers gathering nearby.
Tasered and shot
Mixson told The News Journal he parked across the narrow street from the home and was standing by the driverâ€™s door of his work van when a black SUV sped up the wrong way of the one-way street and screeched to a halt in the middle of the road. Several police officers jumped out and ran to where Hale was sitting on steep steps, approximately 6 feet higher than the sidewalk. Mixson and his crew also said Hale was chatting with Lopez and the two children.
The officers ordered Hale to take his hands out of the front pockets of his sweat shirt.
â€œAbout a second later, they Tasered him,â€ Mixson has said. â€œHe was just sitting there. He didnâ€™t do anything.â€
Seconds later, police repeated their command for Hale to show them his hands, and they Tasered him a second time, after which he rolled onto his left side and vomited into a flower bed, the Mixsons said.
Hale rolled back to his right, into a sitting position, still shaking, and police Tasered him a third time, Mixson said.
Both Mixsons said Hale never threatened officers and â€œdidnâ€™t deserve to be shot.â€
According to the complaint, none of the officers identified themselves as police or law enforcement officers, as is required by their policy; wore badges; wore police uniforms; had â€˜policeâ€™ written on the front of their uniforms; or told Hale why they were there, or that they wanted to arrest him.
Neuberger cites Wilmington Police policy that limits the use of Tasers to combative, physically aggressive or actively resisting individuals, and strictly forbids any use outside of these limited circumstances.
â€œAs the electrical current rushed through him, his muscles locked up and he began to shake and convulse uncontrollably,â€ the complaint states. â€œAfter this first tasering, several of the heavily armed police officers were close enough to and had the ability to tackle the completely-incapacitated Hale, but they deliberately chose not to do so.â€
According to the complaint, Hale twice shouted, â€œIâ€™m trying to get my hands out.â€
â€œLt. William Browne of the WPD then fired three shots into Haleâ€™s chest, which eventually killed him,â€ the complaint states. â€œLt. Browne failed to exhaustall other reasonable means of apprehension before using deadly force.â€