A disturbance in downtown Rehoboth prompts calls to 911 and a police response. What happens next sparks controversy, an investigation, and a sour aftertaste for one officer who used to love his work. Here is his story.

By Victor Letonoff Jr.  |  Photograph by Scott Nathan
From the April 2014 Issue

policeAll use of force lawsuits are measured by standards established by the Supreme Court Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). The Supreme Court cautioned courts examining excessive force claims that “the calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.” The Court also stated that the use of force should be measured by what the officer knew at the scene, not by the “20/20 vision of hindsight."

— From “Law Enforcement and the Law,” Policeone.com


The incident began on Sunday, April 7, 2013, about 4:45 in the afternoon. It was an unusually warm day for that time of year in Rehoboth Beach, making it uncomfortable to wear my ballistic vest, but a great day for young men to walk about shirtless, showing off the tattoos they’d acquired during the long gray winter.

For nearly 60 years, the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse had company

By Pam George, Drawing courtesy of the Lewes Historical Society
From the April 2014 Issue

beacon

The sun shone brightly and the winds were light on Tuesday, April 13, 1926. But even just the whisper of a breeze was enough to erode the final grains of sand supporting the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse. A Lewes landmark since 1765, the white structure collapsed toward the sea shortly after 12:30 p.m. By that summer, souvenir hunters had carried off most of the building’s remnants, and the sea claimed the rest.

Although the lighthouse fell 88 years ago this month, its legend remains stalwart. “You would think it’s still standing the way it exists in the coast’s cultural landscape,” agrees Bob Trapani Jr., executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation and author of “Delaware Lights: A History of Lighthouses in the First State” and “Lighthouses of New Jersey and Delaware: History, Mystery, Legends and Lore.”