Relatives of a man fatally shot by an Indiana State trooper near Crawfordsville are demanding answers after police said there was no body or dash camera video of what led up to last week’s shooting along a western Indiana highway.
The cruiser driven by the trooper who shot 56-year-old Glenn A. Rightsell of Linden didn’t have a dash camera, as some of the agency’s cruisers do, and Indiana state troopers aren’t equipped with body cameras, Sgt. Kim Riley said Monday.
Police have said the trooper fatally shot Rightsell on the night of Dec. 28 after he failed to follow his orders and allegedly grabbed a handgun on his own waist. Rightsell died later at a hospital.
Police said that three hours before the shooting, the trooper had tagged an abandoned sport utility vehicle along U.S. 231 in a rural area of Montgomery County just north of Crawfordsville, about 40 miles northwest of Indianapolis. The shooting occurred when the trooper returned, noticed a car parked in front of the SUV, which had its hood up, and stopped to investigate.
Rightsell’s nephew, Matt Clark, said his uncle was working on his daughter’s stalled Chevy Tahoe and that he always carried a gun on his belt.
Clark said Monday that the lack of body and dash cameras that could have captured what preceded his uncle’s shooting shows “a complete lack of caring and a disregard for safety.”
“Body and dash cams protect everyone ... from injustices,” he told the Journal & Courier of Lafayette.
Clark said Rightsell had called police ahead of time, asking them not to tow the vehicle until he had a chance to work on it. Riley said police were looking for a record of that call.
Relatives and friends held a vigil Sunday in Crawfordsville for Rightsell, who was the owner of a masonry and tuck-pointing business in Linden, a rural Montgomery County town.
Mark Talbott, a Lafayette carpenter, said he’s “furious” over his friend’s killing and said he doesn’t believe the state police account of the shooting.
“I’m of the opinion that everything they stated was not true, and meant to do nothing but protect the officers in question,” he said.
Police have not released the name of the officer, who has been placed on administrative leave.
Riley said that once the shooting investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to the county prosecutor, who would decide whether charges are warranted.
Police have not said how many shots the trooper fired or what verbal commands he gave Rightsell. The state police account also did not say whether Rightsell drew his gun or fired any shots.
Ken Steen, who lives across from the shooting scene, filmed video of the shooting aftermath. That footage appears to show officers telling Rightsell to come to them on his knees, with his hands over his head, before he's handcuffed and they walk him from the scene.
Steen said he didn’t know Rightsell had been shot until the following day.
“I’m willing to admit I don’t know what happened, yet. My concern is that we never will,” he said.