Department of Justice finds Delaware State Trooper's use of force reasonable

Officer's use of force does not constitute criminal offense according to investigation

By Joseph Edelen
Posted 7/22/22

MILLSBORO—A final report by the Delaware Department of Justice’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust justified Cpl. Daniel Korenyi’s use of force stemming from a November …

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Department of Justice finds Delaware State Trooper's use of force reasonable

Officer's use of force does not constitute criminal offense according to investigation

Posted

MILLSBORO—A final report by the Delaware Department of Justice’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust justified Cpl. Daniel Korenyi’s use of force stemming from a November shooting in Millsboro.

The Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust’s investigation consisted of the reviewal of police and civilian witnesses, police reports, medical reports, forensic firearm reports, photos from the scene of the incident and was held independent of any criminal investigation by Delaware State Police.

On Nov. 19, Cpl. Korenyi and a number of Delaware State Troopers were dispatched to a home in Pots-net Creekside community for a domestic violence incident. In the hours prior to officers’ arrival, Michael Bartie, 31, of Millsboro, had arrived home to the residence and began heavily drinking on the porch of the residence, where investigators later found four empty pints of Fireball Whiskey.

When Bartie’s fiancée, who was unnamed in the report, discovered the mobile dating app, Tinder, on his phone, a verbal altercation began in the home. As the argument ensued, Bartie locked himself in the bathroom with their nine-month-old son and began loading a rifle and equipping himself with a ballistic vest.

After Bartie’s fiancée called 9-1-1 at approximately 8:25 p.m., Troopers contacted him by phone, though he remained uncooperative. Bartie told officers there would be a “shootout” if they approached the residence, though responding officers knocked on the door, to no avail, and continued attempts at reaching him by phone.

The report states that of the officers who arrived on scene, Cpl. Korenyi was familiar with Bartie, stemming from a relinquishment of firearms from a Protection From Abuse petition earlier in the year.

As Bartie continued to be uncooperative, Troopers retreated back to their vehicles after he exited the residence equipped with body armor and a rifle. The report outlines how Bartie used a strobe feature on a flashlight to disorient officers, who then began hearing sounds of gunfire emanating from his area.

This prompted Cpl. Korenyi to open fire, striking Bartie and leaving him with four gunshot wounds. Despite the shots, Bartie survived and was later arrested and charged with possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony and four counts of reckless endangering.

Police discovered shell casings spent from Bartie’s rifle at the site of the shooting, as well as a Springfield Armory XP-3 9-mm handgun and ammunition in his possession. At the scene, Bartie’s ArmaLite multicaliber rifle was found with twenty-seven live .223 caliber rounds of ammunition, and his ballistic vest was found with rifle magazines containing fifty-one .223 caliber live rounds.

The medical report stated that Bartie, who had a blood alcohol level of 0.256 at the time of the incident, had suffered a fractured right hip and a severed bowl as a result of the gunshot wounds. No gunshot residue analysis was conducted because Bartie required emergency surgery as a result of the injuries.

Additionally, no body camera footage was taken during the incident as officers were not equipped or provided with the technology. Surrounding vehicles captured some footage of the incident, though no audio was retrieved, and the footage has poor quality due to the lighting at the time of standoff.

It was found that Cpl. Korenyi’s use of force was not a criminal act, as Title 11 Section 464 of the Delaware Code states “[t]he use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the [officer] reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting the [officer] against the use of unlawful force by the other person on the present occasion.”

While determining this, the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust found that the use of force was immediately necessary and Cpl. Korenyi’s decision to use force was reasonable for the protection of himself, his fellow officers, and others. The investigation found that since no third person was in Cpl. Korenyi’s line of fire, he was not negligent in injuring or creating risk of injury to additional persons. Additionally, since both Cpl. Korenyi and Bartie are both white males, no evidence was found suggesting that race was a motivating factor in the use of force.

As a result of the investigation, the Department of Justice ruled that “the use of deadly force in this case does not constitute a criminal offense under the laws of the State of Delaware.”

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