Ogden trial starts Monday in Hammond
BY Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org October 1, 2012 5:26PM
Rosalio Rincon. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 3, 2012 6:15AM
No one disagreed at the start of a civil trial Monday that a deputized federal agent shot and killed Rosalio Rincon a little more than five years ago in Merrillville when the agent was trying to arrest him during a drug bust.
But attorneys for Rincon’s family and the federal government continued to argue whether that U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officer, Jeremy Ogden, actually had reason to fear for his life when he fired at Rincon.
The bench trial before Judge Philip Simon at the U.S. District Court in Hammond hinges on whether Rincon appeared to try to drive Ogden down while he was fleeing south on Mississippi Street in Merrillville, just north of U.S. 30 on Sept. 24, 2007. Ogden shot at Rincon, killing him.
The trial continues on Tuesday.
Kevin Smith, an attorney for Rincon’s family who filed the wrongful death lawsuit, questioned during opening arguments whether Ogden was ever in front of Rincon’s car and whether Ogden was the one who created the dangerous situation.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Reid argued that Ogden was in an “action-reaction” situation and that Rincon was blocked.
“Where is Rincon going to go but over Ogden?” Reid said.
Federal and local police had been watching Rincon, who was suspected of dealing cocaine, for some time before that day and had set up surveillance to watch him.
Willis, who is serving an 11-year sentence in Illinois for a separate case, told attorneys in a taped deposition about how the two men went inside the Westfield Southlake Mall that day to get hot dogs before going outside for a drug deal. Willis got inside a Nissan, finished the exchange and got back into Rincon’s tan Lincoln. They drove onto westbound U.S. 30, then Rincon spotted a police car behind them. He then turned north onto Mississippi and another quick left into the parking lot of the former Wickes Furniture in order to evade the police.
The move worked, as the police car continued north, but as Rincon turned around to get into the southbound lanes of Mississippi, Ogden pulled up, blocked them to the east with his vehicle and got out to approach Rincon’s car.
Witness Anthony Depew, who was in the car in front of Rincon’s, testified he saw Ogden get out with his gun drawn and at first thought it was a case of road rage. But then he heard Ogden should “freeze.”
Depew said he saw Ogden through his review mirror and that he never saw Ogden get in front of Rincon’s car. He saw Ogden’s gun go off and immediately ducked. In the next moment, Rincon’s car hit Depew’s as Rincon drove south on Mississippi before turning right on U.S. 30. His car eventually crashed in front of CarMax.
Willis also testified that Ogden was never in front of Rincon’s car but did say that Rincon was already gunning the car before Ogden fired the shot.
Rincon’s family is asking for damages.