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Prosecutor: Indiana police chief justified in fatal shooting

May 25, 2022 GMT

JASONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A southwestern Indiana police chief was justified when he fatally shot a man in April who was threatening people while armed with a knife, a prosecutor said.

Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw said Stephen Wheeler had been threatening neighbors and others with the knife when he “aggressively approached” Jasonville Police Chief Ryan Van Horn on April 29 outside Wheeler’s home.

The chief ordered Wheeler 15 times to drop the knife, to no avail, before shooting him once in the chest as Wheeler charged at him. Wheeler then backed up, turned around to face Van Horn and raised the knife again before falling to the ground, the prosecutor said in his findings.

Wheeler later died from his injuries in the shooting in Jasonville, a city about 25 miles (40.2 kilometers) southeast of Terre Haute.

Holtsclaw said in his findings released Tuesday that under Indiana law “Van Horn was justified in using deadly force in order to protect himself from serious bodily injury or death. His actions served to protect others in the immediate area as well.”

Indiana State Police investigated the shooting before turning its findings over to the prosecutor.