Video shows Evansville officer fatally shoot man who had hammer

Video of an Evansville police officer fatally shooting a man holding a hammer appears to back an officer’s claim he believed the man reached for a gun, authorities said Wednesday.

Terry W. Chanley of Wadesville was killed by the Evansville police officer Monday after a traffic accident.

The department released body-cam video Wednesday that shows the unidentified officer approach the 45-year-old Chanley and ask for his license and registration. When Chanley didn’t respond, the officer asked him to show his hands. Chanley briefly complied before reaching for something on the other side of the car.

The video shows the officer backing away from the vehicle as Chanley climbs out and head toward the officer before shots are fired. After the shooting, the officer said Chanley was holding a black object the officer thought was a gun. Police released a picture showing a black hammer laying on the ground.

“At the beginning it was just like any other crash investigation,” said Sgt. Jason Cullum, the police spokesman. “We don’t know why he (Chanley) acted as he did. The officer took actions as he was trained to do.”

Cullum noted that after the officer fired the first shot, Chanley continued to follow the path of the officer as he backed up, indicating his actions were intentional.

The Vanderburgh County coroner’s office said Chanley died from a single gunshot to the chest.

The name of the officer involved in the shooting hasn’t been released. Cullum says the officer remains on paid leave, adding he is also meeting with a mental health counselor.

“The person you hear on that video after this starts to get toward the tail end, is not some trigger-happy policeman,” Cullum said. “It is a public servant, who has dedicated years of his life to the community. He is a father, he is a husband. That is what comes after this is making sure their mental health is taken care of.”

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