INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A FOX59 investigation indicates that Deshon Downing likely knew he was headed to jail when the van he was riding in was pulled over by three IMPD policemen last Friday night, even if the officers didn’t know it.
Downing was shot to death when officers say he displayed a gun.
IMPD Homicide and Internal Affairs detectives are currently conducting separate but parallel investigations.
IMPD Chief Bryan Roach expects to be fully briefed by investigators before he meets with reporters to talk about the case Wednesday afternoon.
Following the shooting of Downing, and as the result of another fatal police-action shooting two years ago, IMPD met with community leaders and “influencers” Sunday to provide details of the investigation and tamp down social media rumors.
One of the community leaders invited to that meeting told FOX59 that IMPD commanders explained that when the van was stopped in the 8400 block of East 42nd Street by members of the East District’s Flex Team, Downing provided a fake identification card.
While one officer returned to the police vehicle to confirm Downing’s identity, two other officers stood by the van. The source said IMPD reported that Downing displayed a gun and that’s when the officers opened fire.
IMPD said the driver of the van was cooperating with the investigation.
At least one gun was recovered from the scene.
Even though IMPD officers had not yet determined Downing’s true identity, the 45-year-old man likely knew he was going to jail.
Downing, who had been a previous shooting victim three times since 2015, pleaded guilty in June to a shoplifting charge and was given 543 days of executed probation and ordered to attend an anti-theft class.
On July 2 of this year, Lawrence police found Downing in a stolen car with cocaine.
Three weeks later he pleaded guilty to the drug charge and received 365 days of executed home detention and was directed to report to Community Correction to be fitted for a GPS monitoring unit.
Records show Downing never made his appointment at Community Correction and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The judge on the shoplifting case also revoked Downing’s probation and sentenced him to an executed term of 21 days in the Marion County Jail.
Flex Team officers may not have known that Downing was wanted when the van was stopped and he allegedly displayed a gun.
“The East District has experienced an unusual amount of shootings and narcotics and so they were responding to the areas where this was most prominent,” said IMPD Major Kendale Adams. “So this Flex team is kind of a problem solving unit that looks to address the community’s concerns. A lot of times the commanders get calls from community members saying, ‘Hey, there’s prostitution on my street,’ and so this Flex Team has the ability, because they don’t always have uniforms, to go in and address those particular issues.
“General crime, high crime, narcotics, those were the general tidbits they were looking at on this particular day.”
IMPD Flex Teams, combined with resources from the recently launched Gun Crime Intelligence Center, are intended to crack down on the most dangerous suspects and parts of the community as the result of neighborhood tips or police investigations.
“There’s no question the Flex Teams particularly but all of IMPD are often times put in very very dangerous positions,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “It’s the nature of the job. That is why we emphasize the training that they receive and that’s why we’re constantly updating it and we’re incorporating national best practices from other communities who have seen success, particularly in active shooter training. I hope we’re giving them the technology. I hope we’re giving them the equipment and I hope we’re giving them the knowledge that should something tragic ever happen, or they be confronted with a life threatening situation because of the work that they do, they’re able to resolve it, they’re able to resolve it successfully and safely for all the people involved and in so doing make our community safer because you’re taking off the streets people who often times are in possession and have no legal right to carry a gun.”
IMPD has been involved in three police-action shootings and one officer has been wounded so far this year.