WARNING: This video contains graphic content not suitable for all viewers.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Nearly four years ago, Shaquille Kelly was shot and killed by a Fort Wayne police officer after he crashed his gold Chrysler sedan into a home around 2 a.m. at the corner of Oliver and Grier streets on the city’s south side.
In the interest of transparency, WANE 15 filed a public records request on the investigation on March 21st 2023. The dash cam video and other information was released to WANE 15 Friday.
The situation unfolded around 2 a.m. May 22, 2019, when officers heard at least one gunshot in the area of Reed and Baxter streets. One officer suspected the gunfire came from Kelly’s gold sedan, spotted in the area.
Shortly thereafter, officers spotted Kelly’s sedan and a chase ensued. The chase ended when Kelly crashed the sedan into a home and got out of the car. A Fort Wayne police officer then shot him.
A day after the incident, the Allen County Coroner issued a release to say Kelly died from one gunshot to the chest and ruled his death a homicide. The release was followed by the Fort Wayne Police Department identifying the shooter as Officer Christopher Hawthorne, 32.
More than 4 months later, the Allen County Prosecutor’s office released a statement that Kelly got out of his car with a gun in his hand and that Hawthorne was justified in shooting him.
“The driver of that vehicle was Shaquille Kelly, who exited the vehicle with a handgun in his hand,” the Oct. 1, 2019 prosecutor’s release stated. “Officers believed that Kelly would shoot at the officers due to the manner in which he held the handgun. Therefore, in response, officers fired at Kelly, killing him.”
“The Allen County Prosecutor’s Office has determined that no charges will be filed. The officer involved was justified in using force as he reasonably believed that force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death to himself and other officers,” the release stated.
Indiana State Police tested a .45 caliber handgun that was found near Kelly’s body and had his DNA on it, the release said. A shell casing found on Winter Street matched that same handgun.
Allen County Prosecutor Mike McAlexander, who was the chief deputy prosecutor at the time of the shooting and worked on the case, defended the decision made at the time.
“I believe then and now the officer was justified in what he did,” McAlexander told WANE 15 on Friday afternoon.
He also said video is just one tool used in the investigation, and that interviews with the officers involved also a played a role in determining the shooting was justified.
“The video is just basically showing what the in-car camera showed,” McAlexander said. “The officer is another 10 or 15 feet at least closer to the subject.”
Melina Dominquez, the mother of Kelly’s four children, also watched the dash cam footage Friday.
“We’re just left with this, we don’t know. The amount of emotional distress in our family. My children have suffered greatly,” Dominquez told WANE 15. “His mom died because she couldn’t handle everything that was going on. it was just tormenting.”
After the shooting, Fort Wayne police told WANE 15 that Kelly was not known to be a gang member. In court documents, he was charged in 2010 with a felony for receiving stolen auto parts and battery. After serving time at the Allen County Jail, he received a suspended sentence for three years.
In 2015, Kelly was charged with two misdemeanors for operating a motor vehicle without ever receiving a license and battery resulting in bodily injury.
According to Richard Hailey, Indianapolis-based attorney for Kelly’s family, who had access to police reports and video through a tort claim, says a gun was in the gold Chrysler sedan Kelly was driving that night.
Hailey filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Northern District of Indiana in May 2021 on behalf of Melina Dominquez, the personal representative of Kelly’s estate and mother of his four children. The case was dismissed with prejudice a year later.