Update (2:50 p.m. on Oct. 27)
Officials with the Marion County Coroner’s Office identified the person who died in this shooting as 35-year-old Darcel Edwards.
INDIANAPOLIS — For the ninth time since Aug. 1, IMPD is investigating an officer-involved shooting, this time on the city’s northeast side.
It was shortly after 4 a.m. Tuesday morning that an IMPD officer patrolling a mile away at E. 25th Street and Park Avenue heard gunshots and spotted a dark colored Lincoln Continental speeding eastbound from the scene.
While the officer didn’t initiate a pursuit of the fleeing driver, he did follow the car’s path down 25th Street until he found the vehicle crashed into a fence adjacent to a house at the intersection with Columbia Avenue.
Minutes later, three IMPD officers spotted the driver in a tree in a backyard a half-block away.
“They gave verbal commands to the suspect to exit the tree, to come down the tree,” said IMPD Deputy Chief Kendale Adams. “This went on for several minutes where the officers were telling him to come out of the tree. He was making comments about a medical condition and his well-being.
Officers told him not to reach several times and at some point, the suspect made a comment to the point of, ‘I’m going in my pocket, kill me,’ and one officer discharged his firearm striking the suspect. He made several comments to the officers during this several-minute exchange with officers and one of those comments was to shoot him.”
The man was wounded in the neck and rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Investigators immediately began a search for a weapon.
“We have not a gun, but we did find a holster on the suspect, so we have search warrants for the vehicle, the backyard and the immediate area to try to determine where a potential firearm could be,” said Adams.
Several hours later, the man’s car was towed for a search while city crews took down the tree where the man had been hiding and forensic investigators literally raked the underbrush in order to locate a gun.
FOX59/CBS4 has determined that the 35-year-old man shot by police once listed the neighborhood as his residential address, was convicted as a serious violent felon in unlawful possession of a firearm and received a sentence of time served and two years of home detention which expired in late 2022.
Having a holster on his person is not illegal. Possessing a gun, if he had one, would have been enough to send the fleeing driver back to prison.
Today’s incident marks the 11th officer-involved shooting by IMPD so far this year, one more than in all of 2022, and the second one within a week.
In at least three incidents this year, men shot by police have either experienced a mental illness episode or had a history of such or referred to a medical condition while not complying with officers’ directives.
In other incidents, armed suspects fatally wounded by officers had expressed threats to engage in gunfire with police.
Adams was asked if the recent spate of officer-involved shootings is coincidental or whether there are environmental factors at play that have drawn officers into more frequent gunfire confrontations.
“I think there are questions a lot of us have about any time an officer discharges their weapon and someone is struck. We have those same questions and I think those are things we try to evaluate and determine if is there some trend here. We don’t know,” said Adams. “I will tell you that when people decide to disobey a lawful order or the direction of an officer, it can lead to this and from that we are all concerned.
You have shots fired in the area, an officer makes a traffic stop of a vehicle he sees fleeing. Now, whether it’s related to that shots fired or not, we don’t know, but he has a responsibility to find out, that’s what we ask our officers to do,” said the deputy chief. “What we do know is when officers hear shots fired, we want them to take action. As we talk about our crime guns and trying to reduce crime, this is what we ask our officers to do. That is what this officer did, he saw a vehicle in that area traveling at a high rate of speed, that would raise suspicion for most of us, he made a traffic stop, that’s what we ask our officers to do and this person decided to flee from the officers and that’s a problem.”
The three officers involved in this morning’s shooting join more than a dozen IMPD officers who remain on administrative duty pending review of their cases.