Family of Gary shooting victim accuses police of firing shots
by Lori Caldwell firstname.lastname@example.org February 12, 2013 11:50AM
Updated: March 14, 2013 6:28AM
GARY — Accusations by family members that Gary police shot and killed Laroi Griffin prompted city officials to ask Lake County detectives to investigate the case.
Griffin, 32, was found shot to death early Saturday in a gangway near 21st Avenue and Polk Street in Delaney Community Housing Development where he lived.
Police from Gary Housing Authority and the police department responded to the scene of shots fired about 12:30 a.m. and found Griffin already dead.
A group of men who had been congregating in the gangway scattered as police approached after shots were fired, witnesses said.
Chief Wade Ingram arrived on the scene and spoke to the victim’s mother outside the presence of the investigating detective. Later, county police were contacted to handle the case.
Ingram declined to comment on the matter, referring all questions to city spokesperson Chelsea Whittington.
The duty weapons of at least five officers working that night have been confiscated for comparison testing.
“They are not suspects,” Whittington said. “The investigation by an independent outside agency is being done to ensure that there is no conflict of interest.”
Fraternal Order of Police President Samuel Abegg said he is disappointed with the “premature actions” by the mayor and chief.
“I would hope that enough evidence was obtained through the initial investigations at the crime scene to warrant our officers’ weapons being turned over for testing,” Abegg said.
He called the accusations “erroneous” and said the FOP leadership is “certain our officers will be vindicated.”
Lake County’s work will continue even if the weapons tests clear officers who were at the scene, county police spokeswoman Patti Van Til.
In the days before Griffin’s homicide, police were unusually busy responding to disturbances and shots fired calls within the Delaney development.
Both Ingram and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said they would focus this year on reducing homicides and other violent crime.
Griffin is the sixth homicide in the city in 2013, a 20 percent increase over 2012.
He served a four-year prison term on a conviction of possession of cocaine, the result of an investigation by Lake County police, court records show.