Trooper identified in Wicomico traffic stop shooting

Salisbury Independent
Posted 3/11/23

A Maryland State trooper was shot several times during a traffic stop last Monday night on Route 50 near Vienna, but received only minor injuries – thanks to his bullet-proof vest.

Sgt. …

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Trooper identified in Wicomico traffic stop shooting


A Maryland State trooper was shot several times during a traffic stop last Monday night on Route 50 near Vienna, but received only minor injuries – thanks to his bullet-proof vest.

Sgt. Brooks Phillips, an 18-year State Police veteran assigned to the Easton Barrack, received medical treatment for his injuries and was later released from TidalHealth Peninsula Regional in Salisbury.

Officials identified the suspect as Keiford Lee Copper III, 23, of Trappe. Cooper was later pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a chase in Delmar, police said.

Copper was the driver of a Toyota Prius that Phillips attempted to stop shortly before 10 p.m.on Route 50 in Mardela Springs, just east of the Nanticoke River Bridge.

The Toyota was reportedly traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour.

When the vehicle stopped near the Vienna truck scales just off Route 50, Phillips approached the passenger side of the vehicle to make contact with the driver, later identified as Copper.

During the traffic stop, Copper brandished a firearm and fired at the trooper, officials said, striking him several times. The trooper returned fire.

Two other passengers were in the Toyota, police said, but none of the three occupants in the vehicle was struck. Copper fled the scene traveling eastbound on Route 50.

Another State Police trooper on his way home heard the emergency broadcast and immediately responded to the scene. Upon his arrival, he found the injured trooper suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

He provided the trooper medical treatment on scene until EMS arrived.

Just 10 p.m., officers from the Delmar Police Department located the Toyota Prius in the area of eastbound Route 54 and Providence Church Road in Delmar.

Officers followed the vehicle to the 600 block of Elizabeth Street, a dead-end residential street in Delmar.

The driver, later identified as Copper, attempted to turn the vehicle around. He hit the curb and crashed into two vehicles. Police said the vehicle came to rest after hitting a tree.

Police surrounded the Toyota and observed Copper alone in the vehicle and slumped over the wheel with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. No shots were fired by law enforcement at the scene of the crash, police said.

Cooper was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical service personnel from Hebron.

Shortly after the police-involved shooting, a resident noticed two suspicious people on video surveillance footage at a home located near Porter Mill Road in Hebron, approximately five miles from the shooting scene. The citizen provided that video footage to law enforcement. The two suspicious people matched the description of the two occupants in Copper’s vehicle at the time of the shooting. 

The two men, who have not been identified, were taken into custody. Officials said both men were cooperative, agreed to be interviewed, and based on the investigation were not charged with any crime.

State Police Homicide Unit investigators responded and are conducting the investigation.

Crime scene technicians from the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division responded to process both crime scenes.

Police said a gun was recovered in the Toyota Prius at the Delmar accident scene.

Maryland State Police from the Eastern Troop responded to both scenes. K-9 and Maryland State Police Aviation Command also responded to assist. Personnel from the Maryland 

Wicomico County State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes was briefed by investigators. Upon completion of the investigation, it will be provided to Dykes for review. 

The State Police Internal Affairs Unit is conducting a concurrent investigation. Phillips was placed on administrative leave, as is procedure. 

Copper’s body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.

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