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Lawsuits Filed Against State Police and Trooper After Death of a 51-Year-Old Woman

Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. filed a complaint against the Delaware State Police and an unnamed trooper in federal court on behalf of the family of a 51-year-old Delaware resident who died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds following an emergency call for help at her home.

The complaints charge the police with excessive force, assault and battery, gross negligence, and wrongful death. The suit is seeking punitive damages as well as funeral expenses.

The woman, Kelly Rooks, suffered from bipolar disorder and had made several calls to state police Troop 5 in Bridgeville multiple times in the week before her death, the complaint states. On March 25, 2021, she had called for help fearing that she had been poisoned.

Rooks’ family said that the victim had been suffering from bipolar disorder since a car accident in 2015 and had severe paranoia in the week before her death. The complaint states that most of the officers approached Rooks carefully, understanding she had mental illness, and that one officer even called her psychiatrist. However, one of the officers was hostile and aggressive, and the situation escalated, resulting in the death of Rooks and a broken hip of her 78-year-old mother.

Police records are sealed in Delaware until an investigation into the use of force is completed. The lawsuit refers to the defendant as John Doe.

The complaint states that the deceased came out of her bedroom, weaponless, saying that she needed to go to the hospital. Within two minutes of the unnamed trooper’s arrival, the situation escalated. The victim’s mother walked toward her to comfort her, and the trooper pushed her to the ground, breaking her hip. That is when the now deceased ran to her room and grabbed a shotgun.

The complaint alleges that based on the angle of three shots fired through the victim’s bedroom door, the door was either closing or closed. Since it was known that the deceased was emotionally disturbed, the complaint states, the trooper should have proceeded slowly, and used a calm voice, instead of escalating the situation with reckless behavior.

After shots were fired, backup arrived at the scene. The activity lasted until after midnight. Rooks died from her wounds at 9:47 p.m.

For more information about filing a wrongful death claim or another suit, contact the legal team at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. today. Call 302-656-5445 or complete an online form for a free consultation. Our offices are located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.