Sheriff to launch internal review after deputy’s death

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 22, 2016)-- Howard County Sheriff’s Deputy Carl Koontz wasn’t even supposed to be on duty when he was fatally wounded by a Russiaville man Sunday morning.

Koontz stayed late after his shift because he had written a search warrant obtained by CBS4 that sought the arrest of Evan Dorsey, 25, who was wanted on a Clinton County drug paraphernalia charge.

Late Saturday night, Koontz affirmed in an affidavit to a Howard County judge that along with Russiaville Deputy Marshall R. Vannatter at 9:33 p.m. they were doing surveillance of Dorsey’s trailer on Lot 38 at 380 West Chandler Street when, “I conducted a traffic stop on a subject later identified as Jason D. Snow.”

Snow had just left Dorsey’s trailer and identified a man known to him as “Heavy D” who lived there.

More than a year ago, Clinton County authorities arrested Dorsey for possession of a syringe and he proceeded to violate the terms of his probation at least three times in the spring of 2015.

Finally, in January of this year, Clinton County ordered Dorsey’s arrest after he had been pulled over and released in Howard County at Christmastime.

Howard County authorities did not know Dorsey was being sought.

Clinton County listed Dorsey at a Kokomo address but finally last Saturday night Koontz and the Russiaville officer tracked the wanted man to a trailer in the western part of Howard County.

“You are therefore commanded…in the daytime or night time…to enter Trailer Number 38…to search for Evan Dorsey,” wrote Judge George Hopkins of Howard Superior IV Court in a search warrant signed at 12:20 a.m. on Sunday.

Koontz and Vannatter were joined by four more sheriff’s deputies, at least one of them staying after shift change to assist in the warrant.

Ten minutes later, according to an Indiana State Police Affidavit for a Search Warrant filed Sunday afternoon, there shots were exchanged inside the trailer at lot 38.

“When officers entered the trailer they began receiving gunfire (and) returned gunfire,” reads the affidavit.  “(Sgt. Jordan) Buckley and Koontz were both struck by the suspect gunfire (and) extracted from the residence.”

Damage to the trailer indicates a front window broken out and bullet holes in a trailer, trash can and tree across the street with no indication whether the bullets were fired by officers or Dorsey.

Dorsey was later found dead.

Later the same judge ordered investigators to search for, “methamphetamine, marijuana, weapons, bullets, cell phones and computers,” in both Dorsey’s trailer and SUV.

Howard County Sheriff Steve Rogers told reporters that there are more than 2,600 outstanding warrants in his county and his deputies serve about twenty of them on a daily basis.

“I need to explain to you that the service of every warrant is dangerous to us,” he said. “We take a lot of precaution but it’s a natural thing that we do every day. We do lots of them and we know that at some point in time you’re going to walk into that situation where it’s a trap or it’s a situation where something could go wrong.

“That is what happens on a daily basis all across this country.”

While ISP continues the criminal investigation into the murder of Deputy Koontz, the wounding of Sergeant Buckley and the suicide of Dorsey, Sheriff Rogers said his department will eventually conduct an internal review of the tragedy.

“We always do that. Every action has an after action investigation. The Indiana State Police is conducting the scene investigation out there. We will take the product of that investigation and use it also to…we always again critique ourselves in everything that we do.

“We’re going to be serving warrants. Its business as usual. We have to carry on from here. We will critique anything that happens. We critique our actions all the time.”

Buckley stood by the sheriff’s side, his voice choking at the thought of Koontz’ death.

“This is about Deputy Carl Koontz,” he said.

Buckley suffered a wound to his rear hip.

“Yesterday after being released from the hospital I walked into my house to my wife and kids….and Carl will not be doing that.

“Deputy Koontz sacrificed his life beside me which is why I am standing here today.”

Police departments and federal agencies each write their own protocols for carrying out search warrants and raids.

Federal agents, typically, do not storm a location between the hours of midnight and dawn.

IMPD will often conduct a nighttime raid only in pursuit of a violent subject or to respond to a dangerous situation.

Dorsey was a non-violent offender wanted for violating probation, though a neighbor told CBS4 that he was unemployed, often at home all day and was usually seen working on his blue Dodge Durango parked outside.

The neighbor said she knew he carried a gun.

“The warrant was for a minor offense,” said Sheriff Rogers. “I can’t tell you that he was any more dangerous than anyone else we were going to run into that night.”

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