Report: Indiana police justified in fatal shooting
Preliminary report: Indiana police justified in fatal shooting outside Lake Station City Hall
The Elkhart Truth
Posted on Dec. 12, 2014 at 1:32 p.m.
LAKE STATION, Ind. (AP) — Three police officers acted properly when they fatally shot an 84-year-old man outside Lake Station City Hall after he fired a shotgun in the air and then moments later pointed it at officers, a preliminary investigation found.
The report released Friday said the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force determined that “the deadly use of force by the three Lake Station police was justified and their actions potentially prevented other catastrophic events from occurring.”
John Laco of Portage refused to drop the shotgun when ordered to by Lake Station police Lt. John McDaniel and Detectives Dennis Dover and Glenn Gulley, the report said. The officers fired 11 shots at Laco, striking him three times in the head, chest and hand. He died at the scene Tuesday.
The task force will forward a formal report to the Lake County prosecutor’s office for an official independent review of its investigation.
The report said associates described Laco as an angry man who at times suffered from depression. The report also said in 2007 he had stalked a former Lake Station police chief because he was upset how police had handled a juvenile assault case involving a family member.
Lake Station police had rescued Laco from his burning home shortly after midnight on Feb. 20, the report said. Earlier this month, the city had ordered him to demolish the home after he had previously been cited for not cutting the grass or cleaning up debris.
“He frequently made negative comments about the Lake Station mayor and how the city was trying to force him to demolish his fire-damaged residence,” the report said.
Police say the day before Laco was fatally shot, a neighbor of Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist reported hearing what he thought was a gunshot and saw a dark sport utility vehicle driving away. The mayor was not at home and the neighbor didn’t call police.
Authorities learned of what the neighbor heard while investigating Laco’s death. Police said they didn’t find any damage to the mayor’s house, but found a shotgun shell “consistent” with a shell found outside City Hall after Laco fired the shotgun. They also noted that a black Dodge Caliber Laco owned is similar in description to the vehicle the neighbor said he saw, but said they couldn’t say with any certainty whether Laco was involved.
Soderquist told police he didn’t know Laco or have any previous interaction with him.