Delaware State Trooper Indicted for Alleged Assault on Teen Prankster


Middletown, DELAWARE — A Delaware State Police trooper is facing indictment following an investigation into an incident where he is accused of "brutally beating" a 15-year-old boy who had engaged in a prank near his residence last month.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the Delaware Department of Justice and Delaware State Police announced felony charges against 29-year-old Dempsey R. Walters, a seven-year veteran of the state police agency. Walters, who was on duty during the incident, has been suspended without pay or benefits but has not yet been terminated.

According to officials, Walters allegedly turned off his body camera during the assault. However, a program in the device continued to capture video footage without audio.

A released video from Walters' body camera reveals him approaching a Delaware State Police SUV where the handcuffed boy was held. Another trooper steps aside as Walters strikes the boy's face.

Afterward, Walters circles the SUV and illuminates the teen with a flashlight. He activates his body camera, restoring audio, and is heard saying, "You sure about that?"

The charges against Walters include second-degree assault, deprivation of civil rights, two counts of third-degree assault, and two counts of official misconduct.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings emphasized that Walters allegedly took it upon himself to "embark on a violent rampage," while State Police Col. Melissa Zebley apologized to the victims, which included one individual who was not part of the prank.

Walters' actions stemmed from an incident on August 17 when he encountered a 17-year-old near his neighborhood entrance, leading to a verbal altercation. The teen was not charged, but Walters later accessed information about him through the state’s law enforcement database.

On August 21, a group of 15-year-olds engaged in "ding-dong ditch" pranks, including kicking Walters' door. This prompted his response, and the incident was reported as an attempted home invasion. Walters, along with another officer, confronted the 17-year-old from the earlier incident, even though he was not involved in the prank.

The teens were forcibly restrained, with one heard pleading for help and his mother. They were held in police cars for hours before being released, with law enforcement attributing it to a "misunderstanding."

The indictment alleges that Walters assaulted the 15-year-old during the encounter. His actions have led to serious charges and a potential reevaluation of police protocols in similar cases.