INDIANAPOLIS — Damarius Coffy’s family told FOX59 and CBS4 that he had driven his brother, his cousin and his cousin’s 1-year-old son to a BP convenience store at 2950 Cold Spring Road Saturday night when the cousin exchanged words with a man inside the store.
The family said that, as the Coffy brothers were driving away, the cousin demanded to be let out of the vehicle and began walking back to the convenience store, armed with his own gun.
By the time the Coffy brothers pulled a U turn to return to the store and became stuck at a stoplight, there was gunfire in the parking lot. Seconds later, the brothers spotted the body of their cousin and another man on the asphalt.
The other man’s girlfriend was armed with a gun, and police recovered two firearms at the scene.
Now, two 23-year-old men are dead, and the girlfriend who admitted she pulled a trigger and shot the cousin was questioned and released. IMPD homicide detectives have lodged a preliminary charge of Felony Murder against Coffy with Robbery listed as the underlying factor to the charge.
“Felony Murder is a killing in the course of another crime, another felony, and the other felonies under Indiana law are robbery, rape, confinement, violent felonies,” longtime Indianapolis defense attorney Jack Crawford said. “You intended to commit the violent felony, you didn’t intend to kill anybody, but somebody ended up dead.
”The question in a felony murder is whether the defendant knew what the other people intended to do. Did he know there was going to be a shooting? Did he know there was going to be an attempted carjacking or robbery, or he is just an innocent bystander who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Wrong place, wrong time is not felony murder.”
Coffy’s family told FOX59 and CBS4 that the brothers did not supply their cousin with a gun, nor did they know his intentions when he insisted on being let out of the car.
”You can be 10 miles away if you know that the intent of your associates was to commit a violent felony,” Crawford said. “If you hand them the gun or point out the location where the carjacking’s supposed to occur, anything that you do in the course of your intent to commit the violent felony could involve you in a felony murder charge.
“It’s a question of fact — did the defendant know or have some reason to reasonably believe that his partner was gonna commit a violent felony? Only the defendant knows that, and that will probably come out in further evidence in the case.”
IMPD detectives reported that Coffy gave them a statement before he was charged.
”If the police arrested him for felony murder, they must have had some evidence to indicate that the defendant knew what was going to happen,” Crawford said. ”When you’re involved in a violent act, you don’t have to pull the trigger to get charged with murder. You could be charged with felony murder, or you could be charged as an accomplice to a murder, too. So, a lot of young people particularly seem to feel that, ‘If I didn’t pull the trigger, if I didn’t go in the store with the gun, I can’t be charged with murder.’ Not Necessarily so.”
While Coffy’s family grapples with his arrest, they ask why the other man’s girlfriend is not facing charges in the death of Coffy’s cousin.
”Self-defense provides that you can protect yourself using force, even using violent force if necessary, and you can protect another person,” Crawford said. “So, if she says she was protecting someone else when she fired, then she probably has a pretty good self-defense claim, and that’s probably the reason she’s not charged.”
At the murder scene, the 1-year-old was removed from Coffy’s car and handed over to his mother.