Probe under way in deputy’s fatal shooting

Investigators are continuing a review of an altercation that occurred last week in Salisbury, in which a sheriff’s deputy shot an armed man in a west Salisbury neighborhood.

According to initial reports, the man was fatally wounded when he pulled his gun during a struggle with a deputy.

The deceased man is identified as Fednel Rhinvil, 25, of the 700-block of Dennis Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office deputy is identified as Deputy 1st Class Benjamin Jones, 35, a 14-year-veteran of the department. The deputy sustained an injury to his hand during a fight with Rhinvil. He was treated at Peninsula Regional Medical Center and released.

Sheriff Mike Lewis contacted the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit and requested its investigators conduct the police involved shooting investigation. Assistance is being provided by the State Police Criminal Enforcement Division, the Salisbury Police, the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Wicomico County Bureau of Investigation.

The preliminary investigation indicates that at about 1:45 a.m. on Tuesday, the deputy was patrolling in the 700-block of Dennis Street when he saw two individuals walking on the street near East Road.

Deputies had been informed yesterday of information involving threats that had been made to ‘shoot up’ a house on Olivia Street, one block over. Citizens had also contacted the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office recently requesting increased patrols in the area.

The deputy stopped and attempted to conduct a brief field interview with the two people on the street.

When the deputy called to the men, one stopped, but the other, later identified as Rhinvil, continued walking. The deputy repeated his request to stop and the man began running. The deputy pursued on foot and caught Rhinvil as he scaled a fence.

The initial investigation indicates a fight ensued and the deputy was pinned on the ground on his back. As he struggled to escape, the deputy saw Rhinvil pull a handgun from his pocket. Fearing for his life, the deputy pulled his department-issued .45 caliber Glock pistol and shot Rhinvil.

It is not believed Rhinvil fired his gun. Emergency medical services personnel responded, but Rhinvil was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators recovered a loaded and cocked revolver from the scene. It will be forwarded to the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division for investigation and analysis. Rhinvil’s body has been transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.

Investigators have been working throughout the day contacting residents in the area and attempting to identify witnesses. Anyone who may have been a witness is urged to contact Maryland State Police investigators at the Salisbury Barrack, at 410-749-3101 x138.

The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit investigation is continuing. Upon completion, the investigation will be forwarded to the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office for review.

Lewis has placed the deputy on routine administrative leave, as is procedure. He will be asking the Maryland State Police Internal Affairs Unit to conduct a concurrent investigation into the police involved shooting.

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