Officers involved in deadly July 2020 SWAT shooting will not face charges, prosecutor says

Crime in Indianapolis

Image from scene on July 18, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Metropolitan police officers involved in a deadly shooting from last July will not face criminal charges.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office conducted an “extensive review” of the circumstances surrounding the July 19, 2020, shooting of Grant King.

King, 35, died during the encounter. The incident started with a phone call around 11:45 p.m. on July 18 in which a relative said King was on the porch and had a gun. Police responded to the 3600 block of N. Parker Avenue on the northeast side.

Officers found King on the front porch with a gun. When police told him to drop his weapon, he grabbed another firearm, police said, and opened fire before taking refuge inside the home.

The relative who’d called for help said she lived at the home with King. She said he was diabetic, had high blood pressure and suffered from mental illness. She believed he’d been drinking and had seen him with a bottle of alcohol.

At the time of the incident, IMPD officers were not equipped with body cameras. However, an officer used his personal cell phone to record what transpired. The video showed officers contacting King as he sat on the front porch and continued through the moment shots were fired.

The rest of the video showed the officer and other IMPD personnel watching outside the home as they prepared to secure the area.

After the initial shooting, negotiators were able to talk to King while he was inside the home. He was described as upset and angry, and told police he didn’t want to go back to prison. At one point, King told an officer “they would have to come kill him or he would kill himself.”

Negotiators were disconnected from calls with King on several occasions in which family members and friends were speaking to him. When talks resumed, King often sounded half asleep, police said. Eventually, King stopped responding to negotiators, who turned to making PA announcements without reaching him.

SWAT then attempted to use a robot to get inside the home, but the clutter inside was too much for the robot to maneuver. Police also tried to activate King’s ankle monitoring device to pinpoint his location, but that proved unsuccessful.

SWAT then decided to breach the home to find King; they found him hiding in a closet in the southeast bedroom and believed he was armed.

Officers gave several commands, including “Let me see your hands,” but King didn’t reply. One officer deployed a “less lethal” round from a shotgun; officers then reported hearing gunshots. Officers returned fire and found King in the closet, covered with clothes.

They then moved King to the living room for medical treatment.

IMPD released the names of five officers involved in the shooting:

  • John Perkins (24-year veteran)
  • Klinton Streeter (11-year veteran)
  • Lee Rabensteine (10-year veteran)
  • Evan Matheis (5-year veteran)
  • Dwayne Mills (1.5-year veteran)

Rabensteine’s shield had what appeared to be a bullet strike on it. Investigators also found what appeared to be a bullet strike on a tree an officer had used for cover during the initial encounter with King.

Forensic teams recovered multiple casings from the scene, including those fired by the five officers involved and casings from the guns belonging to King. Thirteen casings were found in the front porch area where King had initially shot at officers.

In the southeast bedroom, police investigators recovered 23 9mm cartridge casings. Twenty-one of those came from officers’ guns and two came from King’s.

The autopsy report found King had been shot 35 times; 13 of his gunshot wounds were to his forearms and hands; the rest were to his upper and lower extremities.

From the report:

Eleven spent bullets or fragments were recovered from King’s body. Of those fired bullets, four were identified as having been fired by Sgt. Streeter; two were identified as having been fired by Officer Rabensteine and one as having been fired by Officer Matheis. The remaining spent bullets did not have enough information for an identification to be made.

The coroner listed King’s cause of death as multiple gunshot wounds and ruled his death a homicide.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office determined that officers were justified in their use of deadly force, noting that King had fired on officers when they first made contact with him and then hid inside the home.

The prosecutor’s report also noted that King was armed and that police had tried on multiple occasions to communicate with him in order to negotiate a peaceful resolution.

From the report:

Any death at the hands of law enforcement demands transparency and accountability, which the Prosecutor’s Office intends this report to provide. The impartial, objective evidence gathered throughout this investigation makes clear that Mr. King fired on the officers who responded to his relative’s 911 call and then fired again on the officers who entered his home to take him into custody and render aid. Under the applicable legal standards, Mr. King’s actions necessitated that the police defend themselves with deadly force and the Prosecutor’s Office will therefore not file charges in this case.

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