Originally published July 11, 2012
A man who grew up in Columbia and who was shot and killed in March by a state trooper had no controlled substances in his system, according to the Fulton County coroner in Pennsylvania.
The coroner, Berley Souders, told Patch in an email that Daryl Jerome Berry, 45, of Cincinnati, who police said was shot three times on the turnpike March 6 by Pennsylvania State Trooper Marshall Kephart, had no illegal drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of his death.
“I knew that would be the case,” said Joyce Hamilton Berry, Daryl Jerome Berry's mother and a Columbia psychologist.
The shooting occurred around 9 p.m on March 6 in Brush Creek Township, PA, according to police.
Police reported after the incident that Daryl Berry released his two Rottweilers on Trooper Kephart and then proceeded to attack the officer with a metal flashlight after the trooper responded to the scene of an accident involving Berry. During the attack, Kephart shot Berry three times, killing him, according to police.
Citing an ongoing investigation, police have declined to release 911 calls, police reports and witness statements related to the incident.
They have also said there is no video recordings of the incident available, as the trooper's dashcam video recorder was malfunctioning at the time.
Kephart returned to full duty six days after the shooting, according to a state police spokesperson.
Berry has said her son was a good man who owned a property management company and held an electrical engineering degree from Tuskegee University.
This week she sent a letter to U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Maryland, in which she asked for help finding answers as to why her son was shot if he was only carrying a flashlight, why the trooper didn't shoot the dogs if they were attacking him and when more information will become available.
"I would like to know if this is another instance of police misconduct or is it a violation of his civil rights, if not both," wrote Berry. "And finally, I would like to know if my son was another African American male driving a luxury car with dogs and therefore considered to be a drug dealer whose life was not as valuable as a dog’s life."
In a news report from the Fulton County News, it was reported that Boyd Kreider, 24, of Woodbury, PA was one of the drivers of a tractor-trailer that was involved in the accident that occurred before the shooting.
Kreider said in an interview with Patch that he saw some of the incident. Kreider said he and another truck driver were attempting to speak to Berry after the accident, but returned to their trucks after Berry tried to get them to leave by swinging his flashlight around.
When the officer arrived, Kreider said he was sitting in a truck about 150 feet away from where the incident occurred.
“It was dark,” said Kreider, “I couldn’t see a whole lot. I didn’t hear any gunshots.”
He said the dogs were mixed up in the fight, but couldn’t tell if they were actually vicious. He said he was told by the police dispatcher who he was on the phone with during the fight that shots were fired.
“To my knowledge the [media] reports are accurate,” said Kreider. “The cop was just doing his job.”
But Joyce Hamilton Berry said she wonders why the police have not released more information to her if the police’s account of events is accurate.
“The fact they won’t release information tells me something is wrong,” she said.