Wilmington Police

File photo: A Wilmington Police car. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

Prosecutors cleared Wilmington police Cpl. James MacColl and other officers for shooting paraplegic Jeremy McDole to death in 2015, but their actions cost the city $1.5 million to settle his family’s lawsuit.

In 2019, MacColl shot another man, wounding Yahim Harris as he ran from a vehicle that had reportedly been carjacked. Again, prosecutors cleared the cop of wrongdoing.

The next year, however, the state dropped all charges against Harris. A prosecutor said MacColl changed the barrel of his gun to make it more accurate, and then lied about his actions — undermining his credibility as a witness. An alleged violent felon went free, and the city paid another $650,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Harris.

And now MacColl himself is a convicted felon.

In 2021, a grand jury indicted MacColl for two felonies — tampering with physical evidence and making a false statement to law enforcement — and misdemeanor official conduct. Delaware Attorney General Jennings cited his “staggering and disturbing lack of candor.” By then, MacColl’s law enforcement career that began in 2005 had ended.

This month, after a four-day trial, a jury convicted him of lying to supervisors and official misconduct. Jurors acquitted him of the tampering charge. The ex-cop faces up to three years in prison at his March 24 sentencing, but no mandatory time behind bars.

After the verdict, Jennings said “justice was served” in the case brought by her office’s Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust.

“Police who break the law are not only committing a crime — they are sullying the public trust at the expense of the people they serve and of all those who choose public service,’’ Jennings said. “At the absolute minimum, we should be able to expect honesty from those we trust to enforce the law. The jury recognized that fact.”

Prosecutors have said that during the mandated investigation of MacColl’s use of deadly force against Harris, they found discrepancies between the bullets fired from MacColl’s service weapon and the barrel of his gun. At the time, MacColl denied changing the barrel on his weapon.

Prosecutors said they later learned of an interview in which MacColl admitted switching the standard issue five-twist barrel on his service weapon with an aftermarket six-twist barrel in 2017 — long after the McDole shooting, but nearly two years before he shot Harris.

“MacColl’s alleged conduct not only misled investigators,’’ Jennings’ office in a news release after the verdict, “but derailed and terminated the prosecution of an alleged violent crime.”

This article first appeared on WHYY.org

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