BEECH GROVE, Ind. (Sept. 29, 2015)-- Beech Grove police officer William Toney wasn’t even supposed to be on duty when a call came out that another patrolman was on the trail of a stolen van.
“He looked at his friend and his wife and he said, ‘I’m going to catch that stolen car,’” remembered Captain Bill Mercuri, “And that’s what he did.”
Toney pursued the van until it crashed into a house. While his partner chased down the passenger, Toney took off after the driver.
As a fit athlete, Toney had no doubt he could run down his man.
“I didn’t even use his number,” said Mercuri who called for Toney on the police radio. “I said, ‘Where you at, Bill?’ He said, ‘Hang on a minute.’”
That was the last anyone heard from Officer Toney.
“Dispatch said that they were calling, hitting for 37, which was Bill’s unit number, and he wasn’t responding and then they got calls from people saying there was an officer down,” said Mercuri. “He did the best he could but immediately upon entering that backyard he started receiving fire from the suspect who had stopped, hidden behind bushes in order to ambush and kill the officer that was chasing him.”
The killer was tracked down before dawn.
He now lives on Death Row in the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.
Officers from the Beech Grove Police Department and Officer Toney’s family erected a memorial at 8th Avenue and Fletcher Lane where the patrolman died.
“Hopefully to the community it tells them our officers will try to capture a prisoner, or capture any kind of person wanted for a crime, and unfortunately Bill gave his life in this pursuit,” said Chief Mark Swartz. “Bill was 100 percent police officer, officer safety, but, unfortunately, that night, the bad guy got the best.”
The killer may have gotten the best of Bill Toney, but he also got the best Beech Grove had to offer of the men and women sworn to protect and preserve.