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Prosecutor: Portage officer acted in self defense in fatal shooting

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The Portage Police officer who fatally shot a man during a traffic stop last month acted reasonably and in self-defense, the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has found.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:47 a.m. April 22, when Officer Grant Crizer performed a traffic stop on William Spates, 39, of Portage, after Spates disregarded a stop sign at the intersection of Brown Street and Mulberry Ave.

In a statement released after deadline on Friday, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office gave this account of the events preceding the shooting: on being stopped, Spates pulled into a driveway on Royal Street, gave Crizer false information, and appeared “very emotional.” Spates also indicated to Crizer that he’d “messed up” and didn’t want to return to the Porter County Jail, from which Spates had bonded out three hours earlier after being charged on April 19 with felony strangulation and domestic battery and two misdemeanor counts of simple battery.

Crizer ordered Spates several times to exit his vehicle, the statement said. Instead, Spates started his vehicle in an attempt to leave the scene, prompting Crizer to Taser him in the arm. Spates then put his vehicle in reverse and “rammed” Crizer’s squad car, which was parked behind him, “in an attempt to push (the squad car) out of the way” and in the process forcing Crizer to jump “to avoid being hit by the open door.”

Crizer then went to the front of Spates’ vehicle, his weapon drawn, and again ordered Spates to comply, the statement said. “At that point Crizer observed Spates reach for the gear shift” and surmised that “Spates intended to put the vehicle in forward and hit him.” Boxed in by a nearby fence and with “no room to escape,” Crizer fired eight shots through Spates’ windshield and passenger window. Spates was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene of gunshot wounds.

“Physical evidence collected at the scene, including vehicle damage and witness reports of a vehicle loudly revving its engine, verifies the officer’s story,” the statement said. Witnesses also corroborated Crizer’s own account of having ordered Spates multiple times to comply prior to discharging his weapon.

“Officer Crizer responded appropriately to the situation and his decision to discharge his weapon was done in the course of reasonable self-defense as a result of the actions taken by Spates,” the statement said.

The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office provided additional information as well on Spates’ state of mind at the time of the shooting. Before his release from the Porter County Jail, Spates was transported to Porter Regional Hospital after complaining of “physical distress.” While en route to the hospital, “Spates made comments to the transporting officer about not wanting to live if he was taken away from his family and asking what it would take for the officer to shoot him,” the statement said.

Then, after being returned to PCJ, Spates was read the terms of a no-contact order which prohibited him from any contact with his wife and their children, the statement said. Spates was prohibited as well from being in the area of the family home on Brown Street.

Spates, however, violated that no-contact order while still incarcerated at PCJ “by attempting to call his wife numerous times,” the statement said. “The two spoke briefly during some of the calls and Spates was agitated and despondent.”

On bonding out, at 10:29 p.m. April 21, Spates was supposed to stay with his mother in East Chicago.

“Statements from family members and other witnesses about his recent state of mind corroborate the officer’s observations,” the statement said.

 

 

Posted 5/30/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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