No charges filed in police-action shooting, officers to return

Two Brownstown officers involved in a police-action shooting last month have been cleared of any wrongdoing and may return to work, police report.

Police Chief Tom Hanner and Assistant Chief Joe Kelly have been on administrative leave since the April 3 incident that left Barry Rucker, 53, of Brownstown dead. Detective Jac Sanders has been serving as interim chief.

On Monday, Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant released his findings based on a review of the Indiana State Police investigation into the incident that led to Rucker’s death. That investigation included interviews with multiple witnesses, review of videos and documents.

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“Pursuant to Indiana law, the officers were justified in using deadly force to protect themselves and citizens in the area from that threat, and there is no criminal liability on the part of the officers,” Chalfant said, adding Hanner and Kelly were faced with an “actual deadly force.”

Chalfant also credited police with saving the woman’s life.

Before returning to work, both officers must be cleared through public safety physical and psychological examinations.

Hanner and Kelly both declined to comment to discuss the incident Monday.

The state police spent more than a month investigating the incident in which police said Rucker pulled a small handgun while resisting arrest during a domestic disturbance outside the police department on South Poplar Street.

New details about that incident were released Monday in the news release.

The autopsy showed Rucker had methamphetamine and fentanyl in his blood, police reported.

The woman involved in the incident told investigators she had dropped her child off at school and left in her pickup. That’s when the woman told police she reached behind her the seat and felt and saw Rucker, who had been hiding in the back.

Rucker pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the woman, telling her to drive into the country, police said.

The two had been in a relationship until late 2018 when he had threatened her with a machete.

The woman refused and instead drove to the Brownstown Police Department, got out of the truck and ran into the police station, police said.

Rucker, however, followed her and pulled her out of the building and told her he was going to shoot and kill her.

A citizen driving by saw Rucker had a handgun and called 911. Hanner and Kelly, who were both assisting with traffic control at local schools, responded and told Rucker to drop the weapon.

Rucker refused, and officers used their stun guns on Rucker, but those guns did not completely incapacitate him.

After he fell to the ground, Rucker pointed the gun at Hanner. Officers repeatedly told Rucker to drop the weapon, and he didn’t before Hanner and Kelly shot him.

Hanner’s body camera captured much of the incident, according to the news release.

The firearm that Rucker was armed with was a handgun capable of firing shotgun shells and was loaded at the time of the incident, police said.

Hanner and Kelly along with others who responded gave first aid to Rucker before he was taken to Schneck Medical Center by Jackson County Emergency Medical Services personnel. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the Seymour hospital.

According to court records, Rucker had a pending case in Jackson Circuit Court on domestic battery by means of a deadly weapon and intimidation where the defendant draws or uses a deadly weapon. Both charges are Level 5 felonies.

Rucker appeared for a pretrial conference April 2 in the case, a court official said.

In that incident, a woman said Rucker battered her and cut her with a machete at his home, according to court records.

On Sept. 14, 2018, in a separate case, Rucker pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery in Jackson Superior Court I. He received a sentence of 365 days with 355 days suspended and was placed on probation.