Officers return to active duty

Three officers involved in a shooting in September will be returning to active duty.
Posted on Oct. 30, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — The three Elkhart police officers involved in a fatal shooting on the south side of the city will return to active duty as soon as Thursday, Oct. 31.

Sgt. Karl Miller, Cpl. Bruce Anglemyer and Cpl. James Ballard fired shots at Jaime Benavidez, 27, of Elkhart, who was pronounced dead from multiple gunshot wounds at Elkhart General Hospital.

The Elkhart Police Department’s internal affairs office conducted an investigation and found that none of the officers violated any policy from within the department.

“A shooting review board was convened and the recommendations were forwarded to Chief (Dale) Pflibsen,” said Lt. Mike Sigsbee in a statement. “The board did not identify any matters that needed additional analysis or that suggested any training issues.”

The shooting, which happened the afternoon of Sept. 1 in the 300 block of West Lusher Avenue, was investigated by the Indiana State Police.

According to a press release issued by the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office, officers were called to the 300 block of West Hubbard Avenue, to reports of an attempted break-in.

Police responding to the scene saw two men running out of the house on West Hubbard Avenue, heading south. One of them, later identified as Benavidez, was carrying a handgun.

A 14-year-old boy, one of the two running from the scene, was caught and arrested. Benavidez kept running until he reached a house in the 300 block of West Lusher Avenue.

According to the press release, several witnesses said Benavidez raised his gun. That was when officers responded by firing shots.

During the investigation, officers determined Benavidez was trying to get into the house of a family member on West Hubbard Avenue.

An investigation conducted by the ISP included a forensic autopsy, ballistics testing and statements from several witnesses, and was submitted to the prosecutor’s office Oct. 10.

After a review of the investigation, Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill said the officers’ actions were reasonable use of force.

Hill said he did not feel the need to convene a grand jury to examine evidence from the ISP investigation because the evidence was “clear and corroborated by independent observations.”

The investigation stated that Benavidez did possess a handgun which he used in a threatening manner toward police, according to the press release. He was also “substantially under the influence of a controlled substance and alcohol at the time of his actions.”

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