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Updated: Friday, 18 May 2012, 7:16 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 18 May 2012, 4:05 AM EDT
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Close friends said the man shot by an Indiana State Police trooper was Lucius D. Washington, 33. They said he is originally from Mississippi and moved to Fort Wayne about ten years ago.
Cathy, the mother of Washington's son, said it was hard to explain to her four-year-old that his father was dead.
"He was a proud dad. He was helping him with T-ball and he tried to do right for his son," she said.
Rev. James Thomas also said Washington was the man shot by police early Friday morning.
Indiana State Police said the shooting happened around 3:00 a.m. near a bar called "The Berlin." Fort Wayne police said the name of the establishment has changed several times through the years. It was previously called "The River."
The trooper, a four-year veteran, was on duty and in a fully-marked squad car traveling from the Allen County Jail when he noticed an altercation outside the bar near the intersection of Main and Cherry Streets.
"One person was on the ground being beaten down by more than one person," Sgt. Ron Galaviz with the Indiana State Police said.
Officials said the trooper turned around and tried to intervene.
"The crowd dispersed and he ordered everybody to stop, which they did, save one person," Galaviz said.
That man, Lucius Washington, took off at a fast walk. The trooper went after him an attempt to figure out what was going on. Galaviz said the trooper ordered Washington to stop and to identify himself, but that he didn't comply.
Authorities said that's when another altercation of some sort happened between Washington and the trooper. The trooper then fired his weapon, killing Washington.
Washington was shot in a yard across the street, an estimated 50 feet, from where the fight was broken up. There's no word on the conditions of the other people involved in the initial fight.
The trooper involved in the altercation with Washington had minor scrapes and bruises and did not require medical attention. He's on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues. That is standard procedure.
"We do an internal investigation to make sure the trooper acted according to department policy and procedure. The prosecutor's office will get the investigation too to make sure no laws were broken," Galaviz said.
But, Rev. Thomas, a close friend of Washington's, is questioning that investigation before it's even finished.
"We need other agencies to look into it to be satisfied on our end as to if it was fair. Right now we feel it's very biased," he said.
Thomas would like the Fort Wayne Police Department to do an investigation into what happened and is planning to hire a private investigation to be done as well.
Galaviz said it's precedent and department police that Indiana State Police does police action shooting investigations. The agency's investigators have looked into several other departments' police shootings in the past.
"Our investigators are very skilled at what they do. Our agency is reputable and we want it to be unbiased," Galaviz said.
He added that a prosecutor can request different investigators from either the state police headquarters, another state police district or another agency go the investigation, but that hasn't happened.
There are still a lot of questions surrounding exactly what happened in the moments before the trooper fired his gun.
"There are some dynamics that occurred that we're not releasing because we want to confirm it," Galaviz said. "We're not showing up and shooting somebody. It doesn't work that way."
Rev. Thomas questions why Washington was shot if he was trying to run away from police.
"He was going away from them. He didn't have a weapon. He wasn't charging them. So, why is he dead," he questioned.
Galaviz couldn't confirm of the man who was shot was armed or not. But he didn't think the officer used a lesser weapon, like mace or a Taser, before using his gun.
"But, we don't know what the exact situation was and he might not have been able to use them," Galaviz said. "[The suspect] turned and engaged in a physical altercation injuring the police officer. He continued to escalate the fight to where it ended like it did."
Cathy doesn't believe that story.
"That doesn't sound like him, to fight back, especially on an officer. It doesn't sound like him at all," she said. "Yeah, he could do mean things, but I don't see him doing enough that someone would need to kill him."
Washington served time in 2009 for a domestic battery against Cathy. Court records show another domestic battery charge in 2011 that was dismissed.
"People make wrong judgments and can do wrong, but if the person it happened to can forgive, then you can't label that as the person," she said.
Rev. Thomas doesn't deny Washington's past.
"We're not shy about it. He's not an angel. I don't think he'd be running and stop and turn around. I don't see that happening," Thomas said. "He was shot several times. What would constitute that. Those are our questions."
Sgt. Galaviz couldn't say
how many shots were fired or how many times the man was shot or where the gunshot wounds were on the body.
"We are always battling public perception. We don't have weeks and months to armchair quarterback. We have a moment to decide how to act, who's best interest we're acting in and what the ramifications are," Galaviz said. "Be respectful of what we do because we do it for all the right reasons. People can take for granted that when they're sleeping in bed at night, what happens, and maybe they don't want to know, but what happens out there and what we do to keep them safe."
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