Charges filed in Gary homicide should clear police
by Lori Caldwell firstname.lastname@example.org|648-3258 February 21, 2013 1:02PM
Laroi Griffin. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: March 23, 2013 6:26AM
GARY — A Gary teen has been charged with the Feb. 9 shooting death of Laroi Griffin.
The charges apparently clear accusations by the victim’s mother that Gary police killed Griffin, 32, as he stood in a gangway inside Delaney Community Housing Development that night.
Devonte Hodge, of 1778 Hendricks St., is charged with murder. An arrest warrant has been issued for him, court records show. He is 17 years old, but will be 18 on Tuesday.
Police had been busy in Delaney during the days prior to the homicide and were about three blocks away when they learned of gunfire. When officers arrived, a group of people scattered, leaving Griffin’s lifeless body on the pavement. Griffin, a convicted felon, was a resident in Delaney.
Witnesses told Lake County Cmdr. Matt Eaton that Griffin was drunk and argued with another man in the group standing outside.
Griffin threatened to “shoot any of them,” and “Hodge became offended,” the probable cause affidavit states.
“Laroi ... threatened to go get his gun ... Hodge raised his handgun and fired it twice at Griffin who was approximately three to five feet in front of him,” the affidavit states. Griffin turned and ran, and Hodge fired a third shot, striking Griffin in the back, witnesses said.
At the scene of the shooting, Chief Wage Ingram met with the victim’s mother, who accused police of killing her son. Ingram immediately dismissed veteran homicide Detective Lorenzo Davis and surrendered the entire case to county police.
Griffin’s brother is Sharnee Appleton, 29, who is serving a 110-year prison term for murder and attempted murder.
Appleton was a suspect in the infamous Taste of Gary shooting that left one man dead. He and another man were acquitted on that case, but Appleton was later convicted of killing people he suspected of cooperating with police about his drug use.
Appleton was a member of the Aetna Boys gang.
When Ingram asked Lake County to pursue the case, duty weapons of all officers working that area were confiscated and tested. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61 President Samuel Abegg criticized the department’s reponse to the mother’s allegations, calling them “unfounded.”
Upon learning that a suspect had been charged Thursday, Abegg said he was not surprised that Gary police weapons were not involved. He noted that in his 10 years on the force, several police-involved shootings have occurred and the administration always has acted responsibly.
“There has never been a cover-up,” he said. He noted there didn’t appear to be any evidence police fired their guns at the scene that night.
On Wednesday, Lake County police spokeswoman Patti Van Til said the investigation was ongoing and Gary police had not been eliminated as suspects.
“The firearms comparison process is not complete ... we cannot say conclusively one way or another yet. It’s a little too soon to have a definitive answer,” Van Til wrote in an email responding to a question by the Post-Tribune.
Charges were filed Thursday morning.