By Russ McQuaid
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 13, 2014) -- As the result of community-wide outrage over the suggestion that slain Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Patrolman Perry Renn should have stayed in his car once he spotted a man armed with an AK-47 in a north side alley July 5th, Metropolitan police officers have taken to Facebook to post pledges to run toward danger when trouble arises.
“We are North District late shift,” announce several officers, crowded around Renn’s patrol car memorial covered with flowers, balloons, notes and stuffed animals. “We always get out of our car.”
“Southeast Middle Shift,” announce another dozen officers in posted video shot on a cell phone. “We always get out of our cars.”
The pledges are a response to a media report that quoted members of the family of accused gunman Major Davis II who criticized Officer Renn and his partner Nicholas Gallico for their actions when they found the 25-year-old man brandishing a semi-automatic rifle near 34th Street and Forest Manor Avenue after a neighbor called 911 with a complaint regarding shots fired.
“Perry had many opportunities to work other places,” Police Chief Rick Hite told mourners during Renn’s funeral at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. “He chose to work in patrol to make a difference. Again, he was committed to making this city safer. Every day Perry got out of his police car.”
“Perry did what he has done hundreds of times. He got out of his car. And, yea, he walked through the valley of the shadow of death,” said Hite, paraphrasing the 23rd Psalm of the Bible. “He feared no evil. He remembered and honored the oath he had taken in the past.”
It’s the same oath that 60 members of the 9th IMPD Recruit Class took in early June before reporting to the city’s police academy on Indianapolis’ eastside.
Fifty nine recruits remain and they all attended Renn’s funeral Friday.
Their presence was noted by Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.
“I can assure you they understand Officer Renn’s valor, commitment and sacrifice and they will remember that.”
During a recent training session at the academy the recruits squared off against one another, in boxing gloves and head gear, in a “Red Man” drill to acclimate them of the hand-to-hand combat that is all too often common for officers on the streets of Indianapolis.
“Sometimes you don’t have a choice,” said Sgt. Eric Eads, a grand jury investigator who trains in martial arts several times a week and teaches at the academy. “We have a lot of people around who have mental problems, emotional problems, and sometimes you have to put hands on people.
“We have people who come out of this academy and say, ‘That saved my life,’ and that’s why we’re here.”
Someday Recruit Nicholas Schaller may be one of those cops.
“What it teaches us is to basically stay calm, cool and collected when an event like that would arise,” said Schaller, dripping with sweat after a combative workout that taught him how to defend himself and apply countermoves to potential resistors.
“We have to step up, take charge and control of the situation and by doing so we’ve got to make sure that we protect the lives of everyone around us and ourselves,” he said.
That’s what Perry Renn was doing that Saturday night when he entered a darkened alley off a backyard crowded with women, children and friends at a holiday cookout.
Witness told FOX59 News that Davis had been drinking and arguing and firing off his rifle before officers arrived.
Davis’ girlfriend, Latasha Ruffin, stood between the father of her child and police, pleading with him to drop the weapon while warning officers that the armed man was drunk.
Renn and Gallico withheld their fire to avoid injuring Ruffin and that’s when investigators found Davis allegedly fired his fatal shots before being wounded by police bullets.
Two hours after Renn was pronounced dead at Eskenazi Hospital, Riggs was asked, in the wake of a murder rate climbing above last year’s levels and the death of a second city police officer in less than a year, if Indianapolis was spinning out of control.
The director disagreed.
“They were in the right place at the right times,” Riggs said of Officer Gallico and Renn. “Can you imagine if this individual and some of those were able to move their violence throughout the city?”
“They took an incident that was horrific. It could have been much worse. Tonight an officer laid down his life protecting someone else.”
IMPD has started using "#IWillAlwaysGetOutOfMyCar" on social media.