During a news conference held Friday, police and prosecutors released more information and a police cruiser dash cam video in an officer-involved shooting in South Bend. Prosecutor Ken Cotter also told the media that the officer will not face charges.
This shooting happened at Western and Grant on Thursday afternoon around 1 p.m.
Police say they got two different calls about an unwanted person — now identified as 56-year-old Rafael Ramirez — at that location. When officers arrived to investigate, police say one of them — now identified as James Dennin — shot Ramirez.
Dennin was not injured.
During a news conference held Friday, Prosecutor Ken Cotter says officers were approached by Ramirez, who was holding two kitchen knives and threatening others.
Cotter say Ramirez refused to back up and had both knives raised above his head — that he refused to back up even when officers said he would be shot.
Dennin fired twice, hitting Ramirez. The coroner confirmed Friday that Ramirez died of gunshot wounds.
Dash cam footage and audio was released Friday. In it you can hear police command Ramirez to “Back up!” and at one point an officer yells “I’ll shoot you!” You then hear the two shots being fired.
Cotter said Ramirez lived in the second-floor walkup apartment with the people he was threatening, and that people in that apartment called police twice about Ramirez — the first time over a threat with a hammer. He was waving around the kitchen knives when they were called out a second time, say police.
When officers told Ramirez to put the knives down, police say Ramirez told them to shoot him.
Cotter said there were quite a few civilian witnesses. And Cotter says those witnesses told them that if the officers had backed away from Ramirez, they feared he would have stabbed them in the backs.
Cotter said there’s an issue of whether self defense was appropriate in this situation. He said someone honestly has to believe their life is in danger and another person would reasonably feel the same. Cotter says those expectations were met and no charges will be filed.
St. Joseph County Homicide Commander Tim Corbett said the officers had a choice: “Live or die.”
St. Joseph County Metro Homicide handled the investigation, as per routine in an officer-involved shooting.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg issued the following statement Friday:
“We are very concerned any time we learn of a shooting involving a South Bend officer. I appreciate the thoroughness of the outside investigation, which determined that the officer used lethal force in self-defense and as a last resort. I am thankful that Officer Dennin did not sustain any injuries. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this incident and their families.”
The statement also said now that Metro Homicide has released its findings, the police department will conduct an internal review to insure policies and training were followed.
Kevin Gibbons and Ernesto Ramirez were the other officers on the scene with Dennin.