Wicomico Deputy Cleared In Fatal Shooting Case; Officer’s Reaction Deemed ‘Reasonable’

SALISBURY — A Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputy will not be charged in the fatal shooting of a suspect during an incident last March, the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office announced this week after the completion of a lengthy investigation.

Around 1:45 a.m. last March 3, Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the Olivia Street area in Salisbury in response to a call from a resident about a threat that a man was going to shoot at her residence. The caller told police she believed the man who threatened to shoot at her home was the same suspect who had fired a shotgun earlier on a neighboring street.

Wicomico Sheriff’s deputies, including Deputy-First Class Benjamin Jones, a 14-year-veteran, began canvasing the area for potential suspects when they observed a group of individuals walking in the street nearby. The deputies called for the men to stop, but one individual, later identified as Fednel Rhinvil, 25, of Salisbury, fled on foot.

Jones chased Rhinvil until he attempted to scale a fence. An altercation ensued during which Rhinvil ultimately displayed a handgun. Fearing for his own safety and the safety of his fellow officers, Jones took out his service revolver and shot and killed Rhinvil.

Jones was injured in the altercation, suffering, among other things, a broken finger. On Tuesday, Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello announced the investigation was complete and his office would not be pursuing any criminal charges against the deputy involved.

“This office deems the officer’s version of the events to be very credible,” the report reads. “That deputy was 100 percent justified in his use of deadly force to dispatch this clear and present threat.”

Maciarello said the investigation pointed to no wrong-doing on the part of Jones, who fired his weapon killing Rhinvil only after exhausting all other means to subdue and detain the suspect.

“It is quite clear that any reasonable officer in Jones’ position would have perceived that Rhinvil was about to use his loaded and operational .22 caliber revolver in their struggle,” Maciarello wrote in his report. “Rhinvil’s use of this weapon presented an imminent and deadly threat.”

For his part, Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis said this week he was thankful for the outcome.

“Fednel Rhinvil was a clear threat to our community, especially those residents residing on the west side of Salisbury, and to the Sheriff’s Deputies who are sworn to protect them,” he said. “I thank God that our deputy wasn’t more seriously injured, and I’m equally thankful that our community and my deputies will no longer be threatened by the menace known as Fednel Rhinvil.”