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March 5, 2024 | Inaccurate reporting on officer-involved shooting

March 5, 2024 | Inaccurate reporting on officer-involved shooting

Hey Locals,

We (Kara and Mike) are back and busy as ever. Last week, Allen County Prosecutor Mike McAlexander announced his decision to not file criminal charges against an FWPD officer for fatally shooting DaChe’na Warren-Hill in November. But early police reports on the incident were inaccurate. We have details.

On a lighter note: we also have updates on the county jail project and a list of nine local businesses that made Indiana's Best Places to Work. Plus, we dish on must-try menu items at Chapman's Brewing's Grand Opening at Electric Works this weekend and how you can buy local art right off the walls.

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Inaccurate reporting, but no charges on the officer-involved shooting of DaChe’na Warren-Hill.

Family and friends have protested Warren-Hill's killing and funded multiple billboards, reading, “Say Her Name. DaChe'na Warren-Hill; A Vibrant Loving Preschool Teacher.”

What's happening?

After months of deliberation, Allen County Prosecutor Mike McAlexander announced his decision to not file criminal charges against FWPD officer Mark Guzman for fatally shooting 20-year-old DaChe’na Warren-Hill while responding to an incident last November. McAlexander ruled the officer’s actions were protected under Indiana’s self-defense law, and Warren-Hill was using a car as a weapon. However, body camera footage of the incident was also released, revealing that some details of the incident were inaccurately reported by the FWPD.

Here’s what we know:

  • Body cam footage does not show Warren-Hill trying to hit an officer with a car, as previously reported by police and the news. According to early reports, police stated a car driven by Warren-Hill was trying to hit Guzman, prompting him to shoot. “The video doesn’t really support that,” McAlexander said at the press conference. Warren-Hill's family has previously disputed this, too.
  • Warren-Hill's family says she was a victim of domestic violence, and the November incident was a domestic dispute. The body cam video also includes 911 calls (prior to the incident),* in which one caller says Warren-Hill was "scared" a man was “going to hit her,” which presumably led her to get into the car.
  • Guzman discharged his weapon at Warren-Hill's car seconds after arriving on the scene. A pedestrian on the scene appears shocked and upset that Guzman fires into the moving vehicle and then chases the car.
  • McAlexander says the prosecutor’s office is responsible only for judging whether a criminal act can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. “Whether there’s other ways of accountability is for other people to decide, whether there’s civil liability in this case or not,” he adds. So far, family and friends have protested Warren-Hill's killing and funded multiple billboards, reading, “Say Her Name. DaChe'na Warren-Hill; A Vibrant Loving Preschool Teacher.” They've also created a GoFundMe for legal fees and awareness, raising upwards of $5,100.
  • Guzman will not face further consequences within the FWPD. Following the incident, he was mandated to take five days of administrative leave before returning to duty.
  • There’s still a lot we don’t know about this case. We sought comment from the FWPD and Warren-Hill's family, but did not receive responses in time to report. We've seen no other reporting or interviews with the family/people on the scene. Warren-Hill’s brother, Divoryan Lawan Warren-Hill, was also the victim of homicide last week. Their mother released a statement to WANE 15: “Due to the double tragedy that my family has experienced, we do not have a comment at this time. Please pray for DaChéna Warren-Hill and Divoryan Warren-Hill other siblings and family at this time.”

Why it matters

Learn more about the bigger picture and what police experts have to say about the ruling in our premium newsletter, available with a 30-day free trial.

NOTE: Links to Journal Gazette articles are marked(*), and may be behind a paywall.

  • Indiana State Police and the Allen County Sheriff’s Department are investigating a death at the Allen County Jail – and plans for the new facility are progressing. Last week, inmate Steven Perry, 27, was found unresponsive in a cell block. WPTA 21 reports he was awaiting a sentencing hearing for possession of cocaine and paraphernalia. His death marks the third at the jail in the past four months. Last year, Allen County commissioners decided to build a new jail to address a court order alleging inhumane conditions at the current facility, including overcrowding and a lack of medical care. On Friday, commissioners approved early construction funds* for the new facility, expected to start this spring and end in 2027. The county also hired four additional confinement officers* to begin work within the next two weeks. This progress has quelled a prisoner release order threatened by the ACLU of Indiana.
  • Nine Fort Wayne businesses made a list of Indiana's top 193 Best Places to Work. The top companies* (determined by employer reports and employee surveys) include: Summers of Fort Wayne, Design Collaborative, MidWest America FCU, VOSS Automotive, Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co., STAR Financial Bank, Franklin Electric, The Kendall Group and Parkview Ortho Hospital.

Plus: Eclipse tourism, SACS Superintendent retires, Google funds Fort Wayne projects and more. Read about these local stories in our premium newsletter.

What to know about Chapman's Brewing opening at Electric Works this weekend!

We talk with Founder Scott Fergusson about must-try menu items, local art on the walls and more.

Scott Fergusson, Founder of Chapman's Brewing Co., inside his new location at Electric Works.

What's happening?

Chapman's Brewing is opening the region's largest $4 million brewery as the anchor food tenant of the Electric Works campus this Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m., and it's more than your average taproom. Founder (and software developer) Scott Fergusson tells us about his must-try menu items — and other projects he's launching, like a new (easier) way to buy local art called allwalls.art.

When you go...

  • Try: the Southern English Brown Ale (paired with a brisket or burger) or the Harvester Lager (paired with a brat), Fergusson recommends. You can also play a game to determine the right beer for you!
  • Sign up: for Chapman's newsletter to get the deets on its latest brews. (It will have 24 beers on tap with a new beer each week.) You might also join its Roulette Club loyalty discount program.
  • Buy: some local art off the walls, using QR codes. Fergusson is teaming up with local art aficionado Cornelia Schultz to launch an ecommerce platform that makes buying local art easy peasy.

Learn more in our full interview!

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Have a great week, Locals!