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What Indiana Law Says About Allowing The Use Of Deadly Force By Police Officers

Gun rights attorney Guy Relford says officers can use deadly force if there's a reasonable belief that the suspect is likely to cause serious bodily injury to someone else.

INDIANAPOLIS -- A special prosecutor has decided that the shooting death of an unarmed man in June by two Indianapolis Metro Police officers was done in self-defense.

Investigators say Aaron Bailey of Indianapolis had been pulled over for a suspended license, when he took off in his car and led officers on a chase.  Police say Bailey crashed into a tree.  Once officers got to the car, they say Bailey turned toward the center console and failed to show his hands.  An officer says he believed Bailey was reaching for a weapon and fired six shots at him.  Bailey later died at the hospital.

After a review by Kenneth Cotter, the special prosecutor from St. Joseph County, no criminal charges were filed applying Indiana's self-defense statutes to the officers' claims. 

Gun rights attorney Guy Relford, the host of 93 WIBC's "The Gun Guy Show", says Indiana law allows officers to use deadly force if there's a reasonable belief that the suspect is likely to cause serious bodily injury to someone else.

"This phrase we use often legally [is] 'the totality of the circumstances'.  Everything [the officer] is perceiving at the moment, did he have a reasonable belief that he had to use deadly force?  If the answer to that is yes, then that's a completely legally justified shooting," according to Relford, who says a perceived threat like the act of reaching for a weapon, may qualify if the threat is deemed proportionate to the totality of the circumstances. 

Bailey's family has already filed a civil suit against the officers involved and the Indianapolis Metro Police Department.  Relford says the officers involved could still be found liable for punitive and compensatory monetary damages to the family since the burden of proof in a civil court is by a preponderance of the evidence and much lower than that of a criminal court.

Indianapolis Metro Police Chief Bryan Roach says the department is conducting an internal review to determine if the officers could face any discipline.  The FBI is also still conducting its investigation into a possible hate crime in Bailey’s death.

 

Photo credit: Getty Images / Raymond Boyd

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