Two Indianapolis officers, who fatally shot an unarmed black man in June, will not face criminal charges, a special prosecutor has ruled.
Prosecutor Kenneth Cotter issued a statement Tuesday, saying officers Michal Dinnsen and Carlton Howard had to shoot 45-year-old Aaron Bailey out of fear for their own safety.
The officers believed that Bailey, who fled a traffic stop before being killed on June 29, was reaching for a gun, Cotter said.
There was “insufficient evidence to refute” their claims “of subjective fear or the objective reasonableness of that fear,” Cotter wrote in his statement.
“This decision was not taken lightly and was made after extensively reviewing the investigatory materials, re-interviewing witnesses and assigning an investigator within [Cotter’s] office to conduct a supplemental investigation,” Cotter’s office said in the statement.
Bailey’s daughter said in a news conference that the ruling meant it was okay for police officers to kill someone whenever they feel scared.
“It’s basically like a slap in the face,” Erica Bailey said. “It’s basically telling me we have no laws.”
“If cops feel like they should just shoot somebody in a car because they’re scared then don’t be an officer,” she said. “We’re supposed to trust the law and right now that’s really hard to do.”
Bailey had been pulled over by the officers for a traffic stop, but he suddenly drove off. After a chase which lasted only one minute, Bailey crashed into a fence and tree and the officers approached the vehicle and fired at him.
The two officers fired a total of 11 shots with Howard shooting six through the car’s back passenger window area and Dinnsen five through the back windshield area, according to Cotter’s report.
According to an autopsy, four bullets struck Bailey in the back, chest and upper shoulder areas. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
In a lawsuit filed by attorney Craig R. Karpe in September, the family says the officers fired at Bailey’s stopped vehicle “without prior verbal command or warning.”
The suit also claims that Bailey never attempted to exit his vehicle, face the officers or threaten them after his car crashed.
There have been numerous protests in cities across the United States over police brutality against police-involved killings of African Americans.