New Castle County officers justified in use of force that left 22-year-old Andrew Edelman, dead

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The Delaware Department of Justice has determined that the New Castle County Police Department officer who fatally shot 22-year-old Andrew Edelmann in a 7-Eleven parking lot near Elsmere on March 6, 2023, was justified in his use of force.

The report, released by the Department of Justice Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust on Wednesday, concluded that Cpl. Corey Nicholson shot Edelmann and his friend Aida Pabon in defense of himself and other officers. Pabon, now 22, was not killed in the shooting, but said doctors had to place a rod in her left leg where she was shot.

Joseph Marrone, the Philadelphia lawyer who is representing Edelmann's family in a federal lawsuit against New Castle County, said that Edelmann and Pabon's families are "profoundly disappointed" in the Department of Justice's decision.

"It is clear that the state of Delaware, and New Castle County in particular, has no interest in holding members of law enforcement who wrongfully kill the citizens they are sworn to protect and serve accountable for their actions," Marrone said.

Nicholson and other members of the New Castle County Police Department's Mobile Enforcement Team were investigating Edelmann for selling illegal drugs prior to his death, according to the Department of Justice.

An undercover officer had arranged to meet Edelmann in the 7-Eleven parking lot on South Maryland Avenue at 7:40 p.m. and purchase two chocolate bars infused with psychedelic mushrooms, the justice department said. Other officers, including Nicholson, would then perform a "pinch" maneuver during the planned purchase, essentially parking in front of Edelmann's car so that he couldn't drive away before they arrested him.

Nicholson was riding in the passenger seat of the unmarked truck carrying the officer who had arranged the meet-up with Edelmann, according to the Department of Justice. The driver, Officer First Class Andrew Hunt, attempted the pinch maneuver once they confirmed Edelmann's arrival. However, the marked police vehicle that was supposed to help block the car had not yet arrived, leaving a gap of several feet, the justice department said.

Nicholson told investigators that he was trained to conduct a "felony stop" when a pinch maneuver failed, and said he exited the car in uniform and began "giving commands" to Edelmann. He did not remember exactly what he said to Edelmann, according to the report, but said Edelmann looked "startled and upset." Edelmann then put the car in drive and "quickly accelerated" towards Nicholson, the officer told the Department of Justice.

Nicholson said he felt that the car was “very close” to him, and Edelmann's "deer-in-headlights face” made Nicholson think that Edelmann was “not going to give up." He dodged sideways and fired at Edelmann, hitting him five times in the head, arm and torso. A bullet also struck Pabon, who was in the passenger seat, in the leg.

Edelmann told investigators that he believed Edelmann was going to hit another officer or the marked police vehicle with his car, calling the situation "do or die." The car did crash into the other police car, but no officers were reported as injured. Police later found a loaded semi-automatic rifle in Edelmann's car.

Edelmann was pronounced dead on the scene.

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