IMPD: investigation into vehicle that fled traffic stop ends in deadly police shooting

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INDIANAPOLIS — An investigation is underway after an officer-involved shooting ended with a woman killed on Indy’s near northwest side.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said the shooting happened in the 500 block of Eugene Street. The IMPD said a woman was killed in the shooting.

A preliminary investigation into the shooting indicates it happened as officers were investigating after a white Honda Pilot fled a traffic stop. That attempted traffic stop took place in the 3800 block of Doctor M.L.K. Jr Street just before 1:30 p.m. Friday.

IMPD said a white woman driving the Honda Pilot fled as officers attempted to make a traffic stop for an infraction. Officers with IMPD said, as per protocol, they did not pursue the vehicle.

About an hour later, police found a vehicle matching the description in the 500 block of Eugene Street. As they were investigating and towing the vehicle, they saw a white woman on the porch.

“During that time period, officers walked up to the porch to speak to her,” said IMPD’s Public Information Officer, Genae Cook. “As they approached, she showed that she had a gun on her. Officers immediately gave her commands not to touch the weapon, not to make any motions toward the weapon. She then reached for the weapon despite the commands the officers gave.”

Four officers fired their firearms, hitting the woman. The IMPD said officers then went to render first aid until medical units could arrive. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Marion County Coroner’s Office identified the woman as 36-year-old Jessie Leonard.

Witnesses we spoke to said the shooting happened just as a school bus was dropping off children at a nearby bus stop.

“[My son] was like, ‘Momma they were shooting outside when we were getting off the bus’,” said Shawanda Tyson, a mother whose son witnessed the shooting. “He goes to school here in this area, and a lot of children in this area have been affected by gun violence or some kind of gun violence – even have parents that have been deceased.”

Tyson said this recent police-action shooting will be difficult to explain to young kids who witnessed it.

“We focus on community and policing and having a good relationship and then to see this, it’s like ‘oh, the police shot this lady, so why did they shoot the lady when they’re supposed to be protecting us?’,” said Tyson. “That is a tough conversation to have. To say, ‘Okay, we don’t really know what took place,’ but they seen it. They watched it, and so that vision is going to continue to be in their sight and it’s going to be really hard to steer that conversation in a different way.”

IMPD officers on scene said they did assist children in finding their parents safely in the moments after the shooting.

“I know I assisted one of the children to their father who was waiting at the corner,” said Cook. “We made sure that each one of the kids that may be in this neighborhood got safely home.”

The IMPD noted that they could not confirm that the woman was the same woman from the original stop, or if she lived at the home the shooting took place at.

An investigation is underway as of the time of this report. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-8477.

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