December 17, 2018

New Lawsuit Says Elkhart Police Obstructed Shooting Probe

stock photo

stock photo

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — The sister of a man Elkhart police killed two years ago contends in a new lawsuit that department leaders obstructed an independent investigation of the shooting.

This comes after a grand jury determined the police officers were justified in 29-year-old Norman Gary's death on Dec. 4, 2016.

Lameka Gary filed a lawsuit on Nov. 26 asking for a jury trial and seeking compensatory and punitive damages, The Elkhart Truth reported. It names the city, police department, police chief, assistant chief and the officers involved in the shooting as plaintiffs.

The lawsuit claims that then-Chief Ed Windbigler, who was suspended on Nov. 14 after discipline reports, interfered with an official independent investigation of the fatal shooting. It contends that he withdrew Lanzen, Dolshenko and a third officer present at the time, Robert Roundtree, from the scene prior to the arrival of Indiana State Police investigators "for the purpose of developing a 'public safety statement' intended to cover up... culpability, negligence and potential liability for the death of Norman Gary."

The newspaper reported only one of the officers involved in the shooting, Dolshenko, wore a body camera, but that it had stopped operating earlier in his shift. An Indiana State Police spokesman said that fact wouldn't impact the investigation.

Gary's lawsuit claims Dolshenko knew his body camera was no longer working but did not replace it for his Dec. 4, 2016, shift.

The city had suspended its police body camera program by January 2017, citing ongoing issues with the cameras. Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese highlighted problems with radio interference, faulty power cords and questionable battery life.

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