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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — He was convicted of attempted murder, shooting at Fort Wayne officers outside the Wyndham Garden Hotel off Lima Road.
In the gunfire exchange around 4:30 p.m. Oct. 5, 2020, Lance Morningstar was wounded and taken to a hospital for treatment before being transferred to the Allen County Jail.
In September, 2021, the 44-year-old, who’d also been charged with three counts of drug dealing, being a felon carrying a handgun, carrying a handgun without a license, resisting law enforcement and criminal recklessness, was sentenced to 25 years in prison, five years suspended, in Allen Superior Court.
Morningstar, who also went by the names Joshua Marlin and Josh Anderson, was well known to local police. He says city cops got it all wrong and are guilty of unlawful use of force, shooting him in the back with “malice and ill will.”
On May 9, from his berth at Pendleton Correctional Facility, he filed a citizen complaint of police actions i.e. misconduct with the Fort Wayne Police Department. Two weeks later, his complaint was denied.
Thursday, the Allen County Board of Safety did the same with his citizen appeal at its regular monthly meeting.
“We find no grounds for appeal in our opinion,” said board president, Tim Davie. The 5-member board voted unanimously to reject the appeal.
Morningstar’s ex-wife, Carrie Morningstar, testified in front of the board to say that Lance told her he wanted to die that day rather than go to prison and was hoping to take some officers with him.
“I don’t think he should be able to sue the city,” Carrie Morningstar told the board. “Nothing, nothing because he did this on purpose. He wanted to die that day.” She added that when he was in the hospital, she resuscitated him four times because of family considerations.
Morningstar wrote in his complaint that the officers targeted him because of the political climate at the time and their “unwillingness to pursue the subject given the proper description.” The suspect description was of a “light-skinned male,” that Morningstar said was normally used to describe Black men and he is white.
Morningstar said he was tackled and tased with officers alleging that he pulled out a black Ruger LCP .380 caliber handgun as he lay down and fired two shots with a third shot malfunctioning.
The shooting permanently disabled Morningstar, he said in the complaint, including mobility and visual impairment. The bullet went through his back and came out his upper chest. A blood clot in the brain was collateral damage, leading to his permanent vision impairment, he said.
In the usual polite letter issued by Capt. Kurtis Letz of the Office of Professional Standards, FWPD said there was no available evidence to “conclusively demonstrate that officers violated any of the rules or regulations or policies of the Fort Wayne Police Department.”
The probable cause affidavit written by homicide detective Scott Studebaker indicated that witnesses at the hotel pointed out Morningstar as the suspect, saying he was the man with the gun after police responded to the parking lot of the Travel Lodge on a report that a man with a gun was arguing with someone else.
Officers chased Morningstar to the Wyndham Garden Hotel, never losing sight of him, court documents said. At one point, Morningstar lost his footing and dropped some things he had in his hands. When Morningstar was tackled and tased by officers, Morningstar pulled a small black handgun out and fired two shots before the third shot malfunctioned.
Morningstar was on his stomach firing the handgun from underneath him toward the officers. One officer said he heard and felt a bullet fly past his leg and “was unsure if he’d been hit.”
Another officer said he felt bullets fly past his leg and “felt heat” while Morningstar fired his gun. He also believed he’d been shot and asked several officers to check him to make sure he wasn’t.
After Morningstar was wounded and officers rolled Morningstar over, they had to “peel his fingers off the gun to get it out of his hand,” court documents said.
Besides his current sentence, Morningstar has served prison time on various drug and gun charges since 1997, according to the Indiana Department of Correction database.