Police fatally shot Lymond Moses. His family says officers' account doesn't make sense
In the three weeks since New Castle County police fatally shot 30-year-old Lymond Moses, his family said they have more questions than answers.
They want to know why police claimed Moses' rented Nissan was considered a suspicious vehicle when he often visited his mother in the Riverside public housing complex. Or why police didn't mentioned Moses' car had been in a crash during the incident.
Police, according to the family, have also turned down their requests, including for the officers' body-camera video and names of officers involved.
Police have not commented beyond official statements released just after the shooting. They did not respond to questions raised during the reporting of this story.
The unwillingness to share more details of an ongoing criminal investigation isn't unusual, said Joseph Giacalone, a former New York Police Department detective and adjunct professor at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Especially when it's a police-involved shooting.
"Releasing too much information in any investigation is never good because things can change and then people will be pointing fingers saying 'you're changing the narrative now,'" Giacalone said, "So police departments are finding it better off to wait until all the facts are known and then come out and make a statement."
But with questions mounting, Giacalone said police should be able to answer some of them.
"In the age of transparency, especially in officer-involved shootings, you don't just come out quickly with the good ones (shootings)," he said. "The questionable ones are the ones that you need to also come out in front of."
Terence Jones, executive director of the nonprofit Total Justice, said the unanswered questions make him suspicious.
"It's impossible for the shooting to happen the way the New Castle County police said it happened," said Jones, who is working with Moses' family.
Jones has questions about where Moses' damaged Nissan was found and how a damaged New Castle County police SUV was more than 100 feet away, according to evidence markings at the scene.
"When you have a crime scene, you have to leave everything exactly the way it was," the former Philadelphia police officer-turned-civil rights investigator said. "You can't explain the severe damage to the front of [Moses'] vehicle based on the way this crime scene is right here."
Moses stopped at the Riverside public housing complex to visit his mother.
He parked on Rosemont Avenue, not far from his mother's apartment, and went inside.
"He came in and said, 'Mom, can you give me a soda?'" Rozzlie Moses said, adding she got him a pineapple soda– his favorite.
"Mom, I love you," Moses said to his mother before walking out the door about 12:30 a.m. Jan. 13 and returning to his car. For some reason, Moses took a nap in his car before heading to his wife and children in Bear.
A relative saw Moses asleep in the Nissan about 12:45 a.m., family said.
"I honestly think that he was tired," Moses' sister, Lashonnah Nix, said. "We're all stressed out, so that might have been one of those times where he was just exhausted. He might have just accidentally dozed off for a second."
While Moses' family said they are not sure what followed, New Castle County police said their officers were investigating a "suspicious vehicle" shortly after 1 a.m. in the area of Rosemont Avenue and East 24th Street – a little over half a mile from Wilmington's border with New Castle County.
County police have not said why they were investigating inside Wilmington, which has its own police force. Wilmington police would not say if it was contacted ahead of time about the county's investigation or if they were involved in the matter.
"Questions about the investigation should be directed to the New Castle County Police Department or the Delaware Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust," Wilmington police spokesman David Karas said in an email.
County police would not comment, and the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust investigates only whether police shootings constitute a criminal offense. That office does not contemplate administrative or internal issues, which are a police departments' purview.
Crossing jurisdictions presents a problem to Giacalone, the former New York City detective, because police departments are supposed to contact one another before they do anything in another department's jurisdiction.
"So that compounds the issue a little bit," he said. "Especially now when you’re outside your jurisdiction and now you get into an officer-involved shooting – we have a big mess on our hands."
"That could be a reason why the narrative hasn't come fully out because they are trying to work out all the details in that respect, too," he said. "Knowing that fact, I’m a little concerned why they haven’t come out with more information,"
As the county officers approached Moses' Nissan, police said in their statement, the vehicle fled on Rosemont Avenue toward 27th Street, which is a dead-end because of construction.
"The vehicle then made a U-turn and drove at a high rate of speed directly at the officers," the police statement said.
Family members and Jones questioned this, asking what police are considering a high rate of speed.
That's because bullet-case evidence markings on the street are about 50 feet from the dead-end where police said Moses began driving at officers in his 2020 Nissan Altima. The car's length, 16 feet, cuts that distance by a third.
"He could not have driven at the officers at a high rate of speed like they falsely state to the news and the public," Jones said.
The 2020 Nissan Altima takes six seconds to reach 60 mph, according to CarIndigo.com.
Jones also questions the ability of the Nissan to make a U-turn on the 30-foot-wide road. In a video provided to the Delaware Online/The News Journal, he showed how the vehicle would have had to make a three-point turn.
Police have said two officers – 10- and three-year members of the force – fired their weapons at the car, striking Moses. Photos of the Nissan show several bullet holes through the car's front windshield.
Moses died on the scene, police said.
Also troubling to the family is how Moses' rented Nissan ended up with front-end damage.
Moses' family said the Nissan did not have damage before the shooting. There was no mention of a collision in either police statement, and county police did not mention a crash. Police have not explained this.
A News Journal photograph taken that morning shows the Nissan's front end was damaged.
Video footage by Fox 29 showed damage to Moses' car as well as to a police SUV being loaded onto a flatbed truck.
Channell Lawus, a Riverside resident, told Fox 29 she heard what sounded like a crash before hearing gunfire.
The damaged police SUV's number is 6647. Police evidence markings on the street placed the vehicle more than 100 feet from the Nissan.
Jones said the man's family wants and deserves answers.
"They family demands accountability and they demand transparency," Jones said. "So why won't the police release the officers' names? Why won't they release the 911 call? Why won't they release the body-cam video?"
Giacalone said it's hard to piece this together without all the facts, but "part of the reforms that have been requested, and demanded, is exactly what we are talking about now: not being forthcoming with information."
"There's really no such thing as a good police shooting," he said. "It's either justified or not."
Contact Esteban Parra at (302) 324-2299, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @eparra3.