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Prosecutor: Ind. officer justified in fatal OIS during domestic violence call

The officer, who responded to a call about a woman being stabbed, heard screams before encountering a man armed with a knife


Photo/YouTube via WTWO News

By Mark Fitton
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — A Terre Haute police officer who shot and killed a man armed with a knife while answering a domestic violence call Dec. 1 was justified in his use of deadly force, Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt announced Tuesday.

The incident occurred about 11:30 a.m. Dec. 1 at at 1644 First Ave.

Officer Adam Noel was responding to a report of a woman being stabbed and arrived at the residence and heard screams.

Noel forced entry into the home and encountered James Ready, 42, who advanced on him while brandishing the knife, according to the prosecutor and to police.

Modesitt gave this description in the news release he posted to his office’s social media accounts on Tuesday:

“During his approach, Officer Noel ordered Ready to drop the knife seven times. While approaching, Ready told the officer ‘Shoot me’ and ‘Kill me.’

“After the fourth order to drop the knife, Ready responded ‘No’ as he continued to come toward the officer and a person from the house who was attempting to exit.

“Ready continued forward with knife in hand and got within three steps of Officer Noel and the other person. At that time, Officer Noel fired three shots, two of them striking and fatally wounding the attacker.”

The woman was later treated and found to have eight stab wounds, Modesitt said.

The prosecutor said, “This is what law enforcement is frequently called to do. Unfortunately, Mr. Ready’s refusal to drop the knife and his approach of Officer Noel put both the officer and another person in immediate risk of death or serious bodily injury. Under Indiana Law, the officer’s decision to use deadly force is appropriate and protected.”

He continued, “While there is still some investigation into the overall situation to be completed, witness statements support and Ready’s history suggests that mental health played a significant role in this event.”

Noting Terre Haute police stress de-escalation techniques and continue to train to handle mental health emergencies, Modesitt said, “Unfortunately, not every event like this can be peaceably resolved. Officer Noel’s actions on this day prevented further injury and may have saved lives.”

Modesitt said the applicable law in this case is Indiana’s self-defense law (I.C. 35-41-3-2), which states:

“A person is justified in using reasonable force against any other person to protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person: (1) is justified in using deadly force; and (2) does not have a duty to retreat; if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony. No person, employer, or estate of a person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.”

Modesitt thanked Indiana State Police for their post-shooting investigation.

“For situations like this, it is important to have an outside group that can come in to do a thorough, prompt and independent investigation. Our troopers from the Putnamville Post always respond when we request assistance, and we are thankful.”


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