Delaware police kill paraplegic suspect during raid; cousin calls shooting ‘unjust’

(Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

(Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Delaware State Police are investigating the death of 50-year-old Robert Knox, a paraplegic man who was shot by police in Harbeson Tuesday morning.

Police were executing a search warrant at the Harbeson Road residence of Knox’s father after 6 a.m. as part of three-week drug investigation.

Two men were taken into custody without incident, but Knox reached for a handgun as he was being arrested, police said.

Police said a struggle over the weapon ensued, and two officers shot Knox, who was transported to Beebe Medical Center where he died from his injuries.

Police first reported that Knox was in bed at the time of the struggle.

Both officers, who have been state troopers for seven and eight years, have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard policy. The officers were not wearing body cameras, a police spokeswoman said.

According to court documents, 82-year-old Andrew Knox was charged with illegal drug activity and weapons offenses. Because of a prior felony conviction, he was prohibited from owning the weapons.

While the older Knox was detained inside the residence, police seized four weapons and ammunition from his bedroom. Police also seized cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and prescription pills and $23,000 in suspected drug proceeds. Andrew Knox was released on $13,000 unsecured bail, court documents said.

Those documents omitted mention of the fatal shooting.

Knox’s cousin Brenda Saunders, who lives in Philadelphia, said Wednesday the whole family is in shock.

“He’s in a wheelchair. How much struggling could you have done to a person who can’t move himself? So I feel it’s unjust,” she said. “Even with the circumstances of what they found in his home, they could have done a better job, even if he had a gun.

“Nobody deserves to be shot by anybody, period. They just need to take the guns away — just take them away.”

Police also arrested Andrew Ayers, 54, in connection with the three-week drug investigation. He was charged with an array of drug offenses as well as weapons offenses. He was sent to the Sussex Correctional Institution on $100,200.00 secured bond.

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