Porter County prosecutor taking ‘no further action’ in officer-involved shooting

The suspect in a fatal officer-involved shooting in Valparaiso last month fired three shots directly at a police officer as the confrontation began to unfold, according to Porter County Prosecutor Gary Germann, who said Friday his office will not take further action in the case and that the five officers involved were justified in their use of deadly force.

“There is absolutely no question whatsoever all of the police officers were justified in their use of deadly force to protect themselves, each other, and numerous members of the community,” he said. “Were it not for the response of these well trained and courageous police officers, the outcome of this incident could have been much worse.”

Caden Mura, 20, of Valparaiso, died in the April 25 shooting, which started along a busy stretch of Calumet Avenue on Valparaiso’s north side. Three officers from the Valparaiso Police Department and two deputies with the Porter County Sheriff’s Department were put on paid administrative leave, as is protocol, in the aftermath of the shooting.

All of the officers have returned to regular duty, according to their respective departments.

Valparaiso Police Chief Andrew McIntyre and Porter County Sheriff both issued statements Friday in support of Germann’s decision and the officers involved.

“I am grateful for the quick, heroic efforts of all the first responders on scene that day, and I am appreciative that no matter which agency they represented, they came together as one,” McIntyre said. “Our officers acted within the scope of department policies, and they displayed unparalleled professionalism.”

Officers from both departments, he added, “were brave and prevented additional threat of harm in our community.”

Balon commended “the heroic actions” by the officers.

“Their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our citizens and to stop further potential danger in our community is a testament to who they are as human beings,” he said. “I cannot express in words how proud I am of every police officer involved in this tragic event.”

Germann said he reviewed the comprehensive investigative report prepared by the Indiana State Police, called in to investigate as is customary in an officer-involved shooting. The report consisted of dashboard camera footage, body camera footage, security camera video surveillance footage, witness statements, and statements from the officers involved.

Germann also provided additional details about the incident, which police have said began around 2:04 p.m. that Thursday.

Valparaiso Police officers and Porter County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 caller who reported a man had “flashed” a gun at him by the Taco Bell on Calumet Avenue, Germann said.

“As a uniformed police officer approached, the suspect fired three shots directly at the officer,” he said in a release.

Mura fired “multiple shots” at the five officers, Germann said, and all of the officers returned fire, ultimately resulting in Mura’s death.

“During what can only be described as a shootout, five police officers and numerous members of the community were at risk for serious injury and even death,” Germann said.

State police have said officers responded to the area of Fairgrounds Park, 645 Evans Ave., to investigate a report of a male subject, later identified as Mura, displaying a handgun. Officers located a male matching the description near Butterfield Pavilion within the park. As officers engaged with the suspect, the suspect ran west toward Calumet Avenue, and shot several times at officers and a police vehicle.

Officers returned fire as they continued to pursue Mura. The foot pursuit continued west through an alley to Valparaiso Street, where Mura ran onto the porch of a house and again raised his handgun at the officers, state police have said.

“Officers fired their weapons at the suspect, striking him and incapacitating him,” according to state police. “Officers handcuffed the suspect and rendered first aid until paramedics arrived on scene.”

Officials from Porter County Coroner’s Office were called to the Northwest Health – Valparaiso emergency room at 3:04 p.m., where paramedics transported Mura after the shooting and where he was pronounced dead.

“As a community, I think we should be thankful for the bravery of our law enforcement officers who without hesitation ran toward the suspect who was shooting directly at them,” Germann said. “Therefore, our office will take no further action in this case.”

Facebook comments after the shooting by Valparaiso City Council President Robert Cotton, D-2nd, roiled the Valparaiso chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which asked for a retraction of Cotton’s remarks, a public apology and for him to step aside as the council’s president, which he declined to do.

Cotton’s remarks also drew his supporters and detractors at a Monday Valparaiso City Council meeting.

The remarks were removed from his personal Facebook page and Cotton, who issued a public apology, has repeatedly said he meant no disrespect to the officers involved, and has been an ardent supporter of the police and other first responders during his time on the city council.

Mura pleaded guilty in October to a misdemeanor count of resisting law enforcement and was on probation as part of a resolution of three criminal cases against him, according to online court records.

His mother, Laurie Carmichael of Valparaiso, has said in a public Facebook post that Mura’s family is “deeply saddened” by the devastating actions carried out by her son, which caused a life-threatening crisis in the community, creating fear and sending police officers into “perilous action.”

“As his mother amid mourning the heavy loss of my son, who was loved dearly, I cannot ignore the mass chaos that was directly a result of the actions of my child,” she wrote. “I cannot express deeply enough my sincere, heartbreaking empathy and sorrow for the anguish and trauma suffered by our law enforcement departments and first responders, and the community as a whole in their experience of it all. I pray full healing on each and every one of you.”

Balon and McIntyre also thanked state police and Germann for their handling of the investigation.

“Officer-involved shootings are always taken seriously and are never easy,” Balon said. “I would like to thank the vast majority of citizens who were patient during the investigative process.”