Officers cleared in Shooting

By The Paper Staff

Wabash County Prosecutor William Hartley Jr. announced Monday, March 12, that no criminal charges will be filed in a police action shooting that took place in rural Wabash County on Feb. 14, leading to the death of a Kokomo man.

In a press release Monday, Hartley concluded that “the totality of the evidence establishes this incident as a legally justifiable shooting by law enforcement,” after an examination of police reports, the autopsy toxicology report, civilian and police witnesses, interviews conducted of the four officers directly involved, photographs, crime lab reports and use of force policies for the Wabash and Huntington County sheriff’s departments.

The Indiana State Police handled the initial investigation of the shooting, which took place on County Road 400 North between County Roads 400 and 500 East, east of Urbana, and involved three Wabash County Sheriff’s Deputies and one Huntington County Sheriff’s Deputy.

According to Hartley’s news release:

At approximately 1:44 p.m. on Feb. 14, Huntington County dispatch received a call for a residential burglary in progress near Andrews. The homeowner told dispatch he could see someone in his home using his home security system and cameras.
The decedent, Travis D. Tucker, 29, burglarized the residence, making away with items, including a shotgun and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Andrews Town Marshall Austin Bullock responded to the residence and found Tucker running out of the garage to a pick up truck backed up to the garage door. The truck was later found to be stolen.

Bullock drew his firearm and ordered the subject to show his hands. While Bullock was standing at the driver’s side bumper of the truck, Tucker “quickly accelerated nearly striking Marshal Bullock.”

Police reports state that Tucker went on to elude law enforcement for approximately 2 ½  hours until he was spotted by civilian witnesses in Wabash County later that afternoon.

At approximately 4:11 p.m., law enforcement received a tip as to the location of Tucker. Deputies from Wabash and Huntington counties made initial contact with Tucker in Wabash County on 400 North.

As Wabash County Deputy Corbin Dawes arrived, he observed Tucker out of the truck and in possession of a long firearm pointed in his general direction.

According to the press release, while other officers approached, Tucker got back into the truck with the firearm and drove in reverse into a field.

Officers followed Tucker into the field, both on foot and in vehicles, and approached the truck after it came to a stop, taking position both directly in front of the truck and on the driver’s side.

After repeated requests and commands to exit the truck and show his hands, Tucker put the pickup truck into drive, revved his engine, and began accelerating toward the officers positioned directly in front of him.

At that point, reports state that Dawes, Huntington County Chief Deputy Chris Newton, as well as Wabash County Deputies Steve Hicks and Karsten Kersey, discharged their weapons at Tucker. Tucker was struck and pronounced dead at the scene.
The autopsy toxicology report showed that Tucker had several drugs in his system, including methamphetamine, opiates and marijuana.

The press release quotes Indiana Code, stating “(Code) 35-41-3-2 (c ) provides in part … “a person is justified in using deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony. No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.’”

“After a thorough review of this case, it is clear that these officials were justified in using deadly force as it is reasonable to believe that the force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to themselves or the other officers in the immediate area,” Hartley concluded in the press release. “Accordingly, no criminal charges will be filed in this matter.”

Posted on 2018 Mar 13