Fatal police shooting in western Indiana deemed justified

An April police shooting in West Terre Haute that killed a western Indiana man who exchanged gunfire with officers was justified and the man’s actions amounted to “an ambush” on officers, a prosecutor said.

The shots that Elias Donker, a reserve deputy with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department, fired — one of which fatally wounded Errol K. Bolin — “were justified and legal under Indiana law,” County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said Friday.

He said police found 21 shell casings at the scene where the 51-year-old West Terre Haute man had opened fire on police while hiding in underbrush in a wooded area, the Tribune-Star reported.

“This was nothing but an ambush of law enforcement officers,” Modisett said at a Friday news conference. “I can’t think of a clearer cut situation where lethal force would be permitted under Indiana law than the facts of this case.”

Vigo County sheriff’s deputies were called on April 11 to a wooded, rural area of West Terre Haute on a report that Bolin may have been injured or taken his own life. There, they found a vehicle with a shattered rear window.

Modisett said one deputy came under fire at the scene and took cover while calling for assistance from other officers. Bolin later fired at officers when they used a loudspeaker to tell him to come out of the wooded area where he was hiding a few miles east of the Illinois state line.

Reserve Deputy Donker then returned fire, discharging two shots, one of which struck and fatally wounded Bolin.

Sheriff John Plasse said multiple bags of weapons and ammunition were found in the wooded area where Bolin had taken cover. Those weapons included a handgun, a shotgun, a sawed-off double-barrel shotgun and multiple knives.

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