County being sued over 2017 police shooting

Friday, March 16, 2018

A rural Greencastle man who was shot by police in January 2017 when he reportedly came to the door brandishing a BB gun is now suing the county over the incident.

In a civil case filed on Feb. 23, Brett Adam Wagner is seeking an undisclosed amount of money from the county, the sheriff's department and two of the individual officers "to compensate him for his damages, for costs of this action and for all other proper relief in the premises."

The event in question took place on Jan. 12, 2017, when deputies were called to Wagner's residence on County Road 490 West, south of Morton, in response to an alleged domestic incident between Wagner and his girlfriend. The woman reportedly told Wagner she was going to "call the cops" before she left the home and did so.

Deputies Anthony Brown and Jeffery Freeman and Special Deputy Ian Zeffel responded to the call.

According to the police report filed by Indiana State Police Det. Don Curtis following the incident, the three deputies knocked on the doors to the residence and were met at a southern lower-level door by the suspect, who was reported to be brandishing a handgun at Zeffel.

Curtis's report states that Freeman told Wagner, "Police, drop the weapon," at which point Wagner allegedly turned and pointed the gun at Freeman.

Freeman then fired, striking Wagner twice in the torso.

The officers reportedly did not know until further investigation that the weapon in Wagner's hands had been a BB gun.

Both Freeman and Zeffel, who is no longer a PCSD officer, are named in the civil suit, which gives a different account of the events.

According to the filing by Crawfordsville attorney John S. Capper IV, Wagner did not know that officers had been dispatched to his house, and when he exited the door he was "negligently and immediately shot by Deputy Jeffery Freeman."

The suit further alleges that Zeffel and Freeman did not identify themselves and did not give Wagner verbal warning prior to shooting, both direct contradictions of the ISP investigation.

Following the shooting, Freeman administered first aid to Wagner, who was later taken to an Indianapolis hospital.

He was later arrested and formally charged with several felonies, including intimidation, strangulation, domestic battery and criminal confinement.

In July, the case was settled through a pre-trial diversion program, which Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter attributed to the alleged victim changing her story following the initial investigation.