Two sheriff’s deputies are back at work after a preliminary review showed they were justified in shooting a man who pulled out a gun and fired at them.
Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper has reviewed the deputies’ dashboard camera footage, which showed what happened that day, and witness statements and said he believes deputies were correct in firing at Derek J. Hobson, 25, Greenwood. Deputies Dan Combs and Lewis Wiser shot Hobson multiple times while chasing him through a cemetery near Franklin in July.
Both deputies were assigned to office work after the shooting, but Sheriff Doug Cox allowed them to return to their typical day-shift duties with the approval of Cooper.
The shooting is under investigation by Indiana State Police, who will turn their findings over to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor will make the final decision on whether the shooting was justified.
In a preliminary review of the camera footage, Cooper found that Hobson ran from deputies, pulled out his gun before deputies did and fired at least one bullet before his gun jammed, he said.
The video did not have sound, so Cooper doesn’t know yet who shot first, he said.
“From a preliminary look at this, it looked completely justified,” Cooper said. “It’s unequivocally clear that this guy fled and was the first to pull out a gun.”
Cox decided to return the deputies to their regular duties. Cooper approved of the decision, and in an email to Cox, Cooper said: “There is no reason from my end that Wiser and Combs could not be returned to regular active duty.”
State police were called to
investigate the shooting, which is common in police-action shootings. Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Myers said he could not comment on an active investigation.
On July 31, deputies found Hobson in the cemetery near Second Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, north of State Road 44 on County Road 800E. He matched the description a resident had given of a suspicious man in the area, according to police reports.
Hobson first gave deputies a false name, started to give them an identification card and then ran. He also told them he was wanted on a warrant.
The deputies tried to use their Tasers on Hobson, but neither Taser made a connection, and he broke away and ran. As he was running, Hobson turned and pointed a gun at both deputies. The deputies fired, striking Hobson multiple times. He fell to the ground and died at the scene, according to police reports.
Deputies told investigators they had feared for their lives when Hobson pointed a semiautomatic pistol at them, reports said.