EPD Releases Body Cam, Surveillance Video of Police

The Evansville Police Department released body camera and surveillance video from the fatal officer-involved shooting near the front entrance of the federal building Tuesday morning. Ricky Ard, 55, was fatally shot by by two law enforcement officers after Ard used a baseball bat to break the reinforced glass on the front doors, prior to charging after one of the officers, according to the body camera and surveillance video.

The police department released the video clips a little more than 28 hours after the fatal shooting, which happened around 11:15 Tuesday morning.

According to the video, Ard, who weighed over 300 pounds, violently swung the wooden baseball bat, breaking the glass to two of the front doors. Several court security officers, who are contract employees of the US Marshals, prevented Ard from entering the facility. As Ard began to retreat, the court security officers began to form what resembled a human wall outside the front doors. While the federal building's security video does not contain audio, the court security officers repeatedly issued verbal commands despite Ard threatening officers with the bat.

Ard then retreats across the pavilion outside the federal building, according to the video. He stands near the steps and Martin Luther King Blvd. for several seconds. At this point, the Evansville police officer, later identified as 11-year veteran Officer Kenny Dutschke, has been dispatched to the scene and stands at the opposite end of the pavilion. According to the video, Ard then begins to rush back toward the front entrance of the federal building with the baseball bat still in his hand. Ard then gets close to the overhead awning, roughly five or six feet from the front doors, before Officer Dutschke deploys his taser. The officer also issued several verbal commands prior to using the taser, according to the body camera video.

Even though the taser appeared to have properly deployed, one of the two prongs or probes of the taser hit his clothes but did not appear to penetrate, rendering the device ineffective. Both prongs have to penetrate the skin in order for the device to be effective. 

Once the taser was deployed, Ard appeared to shift his attention to Officer Dutschke, before twirling around and swinging the baseball bat in an overhead fashion. Ard then appears to charge after the officer with the bat above his head before the officer fired his weapon. According to the surveillance video, the taser can be seen dragging behind Ard as he chased after the officer.

How quickly the situation evolved had a huge role on how it ended, said Evansville Police Sgt. Jason Cullum. The total time of first contact between Ard and Officer Dutschke and Ard falling to the ground was 11 seconds. The time from the failed taser deployment to Mr. Ard falling on the ground was only four seconds.

"I would point out that it took longer for social media critics to log into their account than it took this officer to arrive, assess a threat, take action, re-assess the threat, avoid his attacker and take additional action to preserve his own life," Sgt. Cullum said. 

Sgt. Cullum said a key component in the situation Tuesday was the decision by the court security officers to allow Ard to "disengage himself" after breaking the glass. The security officers allowed Ard to retreat across the pavilion, down the stairs and stand on the sidewalk. It was only after Ard began to charge back toward the federal building when Officer Dutschke confronted him. While the investigation is ongoing, Sgt. Cullum said, at this point, it appears that the officers acted within department standards and state deadly force law.

Sgt. Cullum also stressed how a baseball bat can be considered a deadly weapon. According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, more than 2000 people were killed by blunt objects, including bats, between 2011 and 2015.

"The positioning of the bat by Mr. Ard over his head as he chased the officer only left one viable target and that was the officer's head," Sgt. Cullum said. "It's not the name of the object; it's the intent of the attacker."

Ard was kicked out of the federal building on Monday, the day before the officer-involved shooting. While police said he had concerns about the federal government, it is unclear what those concerns were. Some people on social media have asked why the officer did not shoot Ard's legs or another part of his body. Sgt. Cullum said aiming for something other than "center mass" is simply impractical and, especially in this case, not possible because both Ard and the officer were moving at the time of the shooting.

“The shoot-them-in-the-kneecap is a Hollywood perception that has caught hold,” Sgt. Cullum said. “There is an unreasonable expectation on law enforcement to make those movie shots. There is no legal requirement, there is no department requirement to try to do that. We're also responsible for every round that we fire. If you aim at a small, moving, hard-to-hit target and you miss, that bullet is going to continue on its trajectory until it hits something or somebody. We train to use appropriate force to stop the threat. If we are using deadly force, we use that level of force until the threat is stopped. There is no conscious effort to kill. There is only a conscious effort to stop the threat and survive the encounter.”

The case file is expected to be presented to the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office to determine if the shooting was deemed justified under Indiana state law. However, at this point in the investigation, it appears that neither officer violated department policy or state deadly force laws, according to Sgt. Cullum.

Previously Reported

The Evansville Police Department released video footage and the name of an officer involved in Tuesday's officer-involved shooting.

Watch body camera footage here (viewer discretion is advised):




Kenny Dutschke has been identified as the EPD officer involved in the shooting. He has 2000+ hours of training.

The federal security officer involved is also a former EPD officer with 25+ years of experience.

The body cam footage came from the EPD officer's body cam. Other footage was captured by security cameras.

Police said the time from the failed taser deployment to the moment Ard was shot was four seconds. The time it took from the EPD officer confronting Ard to the moment fatal shots were fired was 11 seconds, according to EPD.

It's not about the name of the object but "the intent" of the object, EPD said.

Police said Ard was holding the baseball bat above his head as he charged officers, prompting the use of deadly force.

EPD said officers are not trained to shoot to kill, but rather to shoot to stop the threat. Shooting a moving target such as legs or arms is impractical, according to police. According to EPD, shooting someone in the kneecap is something that's only possible in Hollywood.

Watch the full press conference here:


Background on Shooting

Evansville Police said it was a series of events dating back to Monday, which led to Tuesday's deadly confrontation.

55-year-old Ricky Ard was reportedly escorted out of the federal building on Monday after being upset with a government agency.

Police said he returned Tuesday with a baseball bat and began to break some of the glass on the building.

Some of that glass reportedly hit a federal security officer in the face.

According to the Evansville Police Department, a city officer tried to subdue Ard with a taser.

However, authorities said Ard continued to act aggressively. That's when the city officer and the federal officer reportedly opened fire.

Police said a knife was also recovered at the scene.

The names of the officers involved have not been released.

EPD policy mandates the city officer be placed on paid leave for three days before giving a formal statement.

(This story was originally published on August 30, 2017)