INDIANAPOLIS — It was dark, more than three hours before dawn Saturday, when IMPD officers answered a woman’s call about a suspicious unknown car parked and running in her driveway in the 3600 block of North Oxford Street.
Inside that car, officers spotted a man who appeared to be asleep with a gun in his lap.
The doors to the car were locked as officers banged on the windows and announced themselves over the course of three minutes.
Suddenly, the man came to inside the vehicle and started moving around, though officers don’t know if he was aiming his gun at them.
“At some point officers discharged their firearms and the individual who was in the vehicle was struck,” said Lt. Shane Foley. ”Officers did find a handgun in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.”
There’s no evidence that the man’s gun was fired.
Bruce Polk was asleep in his own house across the street when he heard the police gunfire.
“I heard about five shots. I woke up, looked out my window and I seen police standing out here,” he said. ”I seen an ambulance come later on, took somebody out from over there.”
The man was wounded and rushed to Methodist Hospital.
The owner of the house realized the man police shot was her 24-year-old grandson in a rental car with Florida license plates that she did not recognize.
”I would like to add that this is a tragic incident,” said Foley. “It turns out that the caller did know the occupant of the vehicle which makes this an even worse incident for all involved.”
Police body-worn cameras recorded the incident.
”I just knew him from work,” said Polk. “I don’t know if he’s that type of guy. I don’t know what state of mind he was in when he woke up. As far as them shooting him, I do not know.”
The neighborhood where the shooting occurred is just a few blocks off the intersection of East 38th Street and North Keystone Avenue in the midst of one of IMPD’s busiest districts in the heart of one of the city’s most violent zip codes.
“Oh, it’s not bad, but, as far as gunfire, very seldom do you hear it around here, maybe two or three times a month,” said Polk. “Around this area you probably have gunshots but on this street, you don’t have nothing but maybe twice, but this area around here, I don’t know, I would probably say, five, six times.”
The combination of the frequent presence of guns in a challenging neighborhood, an unknown suspicious vehicle and a startled armed man in the darkness of a winter night led to a trio of Metro police officers discharging their weapons after announcing, “Police. Hands up.”
”It’s a bad deal all the way around,” said Polk. “She didn’t know. He didn’t go and tell her that he was staying out there.”,
IMPD, the Marion County Prosecutors Office and a civilian-majority Use of Force Board will all review the shooting while the officers involved are assigned administrative duty.