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Attacker in police-action shooting charged officers with butcher knives

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

REELSVILLE -- A fatal police-action shooting that occurred Sunday evening remains under investigation by Indiana State Police detectives and crime scene investigators from the Putnamville Post.

William E. Williams, 38, Reelsville, was fatally wounded by officers in an incident that unfolded about 7:30 p.m. Sunday at his home at 11152 S. CR 300 West.

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Williams was reportedly shot as he aggressively attacked police with two large butcher-type knives, one in each hand, Indiana State Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Joe Watts said.

An autopsy was performed Sunday afternoon at Terre Haute Regional Hospital by Pathologist Dr. Roland Kohr. Putnam County Coroner Thomas Miller has listed the cause of death as two gunshot wounds to Williams' upper torso.

The victim sustained a total of four gunshot wounds, authorities said.

The five original officers at the scene were Indiana State Police Trooper Brian Thomas, Indiana Conservation Officers Patrick Labhart and Chris Springstone, Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy (and Cloverdale Police Chief) Jon Chadd and Cloverdale Police Officer Charles Hallam.

Deputy Chadd and Officer Hallam were the officers who initially deployed "taser" electronic control devices in an attempt to subdue the charging Williams.

Officers who discharged their firearms at the suspect were Trooper Thomas, Conservation Officer Labhart and CPD Officer Hallam.

"The investigation is ongoing," Sgt. Watts added, "and the number of rounds fired by each officer is undisclosed at this time. However, they are minimal in number."

Preliminary investigation revealed officers were called to the rural residence because of a reported domestic disturbance. Entering the home, they found Williams locked inside the master bathroom.

Authorities were able to determine Williams appeared to be harming himself with a knife, Sgt. Watts said, and subsequently unlocked the bathroom door. At that moment the suspect reportedly lunged at officers with a large knife in each hand.

The "taser" devices striking the suspect failed to stop him and Williams reportedly continued to aggressively advance on the officers and was able to force one of the officers to the ground.

At that point, three of the officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect.

Williams was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Miller. Toxicology results are pending on Williams, authorities said.

Meanwhile, all indications are that the involved officers acted appropriately based on the life-threatening circumstances they were faced with, Sgt. Watts reported.

Trooper Thomas is a 10-month veteran of the Indiana State Police Department assigned to the Putnamville District to patrol Putnam County.

Thomas has currently been placed on administrative duty, which is standard ISP procedure in officer-related shootings.

The ongoing investigation is expected to take several weeks to complete, Sgt. Watts noted. At the conclusion of the investigation it will be submitted to the Putnam County Prosecutor's Office for review. The 911 call is considered evidence and will not be released, police said.

"While Mr. Williams' actions resulted in the loss of his life, the Indiana State Police, and the other involved departments, extend condolences and ask the community to keep the Williams family in their thoughts and prayers," Sgt. Watts said.

"The taking of a life in performance of duty is a possibility each law enforcement officer may encounter in their career when faced with preserving their life or the life of another person," he added.

No other information will be released, Watts said, as to protect the integrity of the investigation and until a final review by the Putnam County Prosecutor's Office.

Indiana Conservation officers and the Putnam County Sheriff's Department continue to assist the ISP in the case.