Prosecutor: Elkhart officers’ killing of suspect justified

Two northern Indiana police officers acted in a self-defense when they shot and killed an armed man in December during a confrontation in a parking lot, a prosecutor says.

The two Elkhart police officers fatally shot Jahad Patterson, 20, on Dec. 15, after they responded to a report of a man trying to break an Elkhart liquor store’s window with a bicycle.

The Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday that an investigation concluded the shooting was justified. It found that Patrolman Scott Swanson identified himself as police and ordered the suspect to show his hands, The Elkhart Truth reported.

But the man, later identified as Patterson, pulled a gun from his pocket and began raising it to Swanson, who reacted by firing his own weapon, the investigation found. Sgt. Ben Martin also saw the gun and fired at Patterson, who died at the scene.

The prosecutor’s office said Patterson had a .380 caliber handgun in his hand with his finger still inside the trigger guard.

Prosecutor Vicki Becker said in a statement about the officers that “while it is unfortunate that they were in a situation where they felt they had to take the life of Mr. Patterson, their actions were clearly justified under the law of self-defense/defense of others codified” in Indiana law.

Elkhart is located about 15 miles east of South Bend.

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