The southern saying that I grew up with is that, “curiosity killed the cat.” It came within a hair’s breath of killing a homeowner in Indianapolis as well, after he placed a 911 call reporting that an armed man tried to carjack his wife.
He hung up and armed himself, and then went outside just as the cops arrived, with sadly predictable results.
Police had little information to go on early Tuesday morning, when a man called 911 and said an armed suspect stole his wife’s car keys in front of the couple’s east-side home.
The sketchy details, hindered further by the pre-dawn darkness, led one responding Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer to shoot the armed homeowner trying to protect his wife, police said.
Officers were sent to 3600 block of Foxtail Drive at about 4:34 a.m. on the report of a possible robbery, according to Marion County police dispatch.
The caller, who ended up being the man the IMPD officer would ultimately shoot, police said, managed to tell the 911 call taker that an armed suspect had robbed his wife at gunpoint before the call disconnected. He never told police he was armed, too.
As officers responded to the scene, emergency dispatchers tried getting the man back on the phone to find out more about the situation, but weren’t able to reach him, police said.
When police arrived at the home, the garage door opened and the homeowner came out with a gun.
An officer, who has yet to be identified, shot him, police said.
This is not the first time we’ve reported on a case like this, and it probably won’t be the last.
Last April we covered an incident in Alabama where a woman armed herself when a home invader forced his way into her home. She armed herself with a shotgun, and plugged the bad guy just before responding officers came around the corner. She heard the officers call to drop the gun, but with her ears ringing and no doubt experiencing some shock, she turned towards them—the shotgun’s muzzle swinging towards the officers as she turned—and the officers were forced to shoot before the shotgun came on target.
The situation in Indianapolis is very similar. A report of an armed felony was called in, officers responded, and when officers arrived, an armed individual was precisely where the officers expected the armed bad guy to be standing.
Could the officers in these situations have handled the situations better?
In hindsight, the obvious answer is “yes,” but when officers are responding to a violent felony in progress, they’re going to make the natural, human assumption that the armed person they’re encountering is not just a possible threat, but is an assured threat. After all, if there wasn’t an armed bad guy there, why were police called?
Luckily, the officer in this instance followed the very human tendency of looking at the homeowner instead of his front sight as he brought his gun on target. As a result, when the shot broke it was low and the homeowner took a hit to the stomach instead of his heart and lungs. The homeowner was listed in serious condition, but is expected to survive.
Folks, it is a natural reaction to want to arm yourself when you or someone in your family encounters a deadly threat, but unless you have a very good reason to move (for example, you have family members in another part of the home who need to be secured) your best play is almost always to barricade up in the most defensible position you have in your home, away from windows and exterior doors, and wait for responding officers to make contact.
Do not go looking for the threat yourself.
When those officers do arrive, make sure that you have put your gun away so that you are not mistaken as being the threat.
I’d hate to write about you being a person being killed by an officer responding to your call for help because you made the unfortunate choice of going to meet officers with a gun in your hand as they respond on a felony call.