The family of a student at Indiana’s Ball State University student who was fatally shot by a campus police officer last month threatened legal action yesterday after a grand jury cleared a officer of wrongdoing, the Indianapolis Star reports. Officer Robert Duplain, 24, will return to the university police department in a nonpatrol capacity after completing training at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.
“The university’s wrong to continue keeping him on the police force,” said Tim McKinney, father of Michael, 21, the dead student. “This guy’s lack of judgment caused the death of my son.” Duplain shot McKinney four times on Nov. 8 when the two met early in the morning at the back door of a home near campus. The officer had responded to a burglary call, and McKinney — with a blood-alcohol level more than four times the legal limit — lunged at Duplain when the officer opened the door from inside. The McKinney family has retained Michigan attorney Geoffrey Fieger and may file a civil suit. Fieger has been involved in several high-profile cases in recent years, including Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s assisted-suicide cases.
Delaware County Prosecutor Richard Reed said the grand jury decided the shooting was justifiable. McKinney’s family questioned whether Reed and the Muncie Police Department, which investigated the shooting, could have examined the incident without bias. “I’m not surprised (with the outcome),” McKinney’s brother, Ryan, said. “It’s something that’s a rubber stamp to appease the public. The whole grand jury process was.”
Since the shooting, Ball State has changed its policy that allowed rookie officers to patrol alone. The university is requiring rookies to pair with experienced officers if they have not completed police academy training. New officers will work in a team for three months after graduating from the academy, and the field-training program has been expanded from 14 to 21 weeks. Officers also will be taught how to use chemical spray and a baton.