Marion County attorney receives inconvenient questions after FedEx shootout
Marion County Attorney Ryan Mears (Robert Scheer / The Indianapolis Star via AP)
Last week we discovered how Marion County Attorney Ryan Mears, through willful inaction, allowed the Indianapolis gunman to legally purchase the firearms he was using. That fact came to light after Brandon Scott Hole murdered eight people and then killed himself.
Mears, who plays the elected garden variety representative, has tried to divert blame, responsibility and awkward questions about how his office works by claiming the state’s red flag law is the real problem. But the transparent evasion is becoming more and more difficult for the public prosecutor and he is now getting flak from all sides.
From the Associated Press. . .
An Indiana prosecutor has come under increasing criticism for refusing to hold trials that could have prevented a man from accessing the guns that shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Police Union chairman said Marion County Attorney Ryan Mears “did his part” in deciding not to take Brandon Scott Hole to a judge for a hearing under Indiana’s “red flag” law, even after his mother called the police last year to say that her son could prosecute “police suicide”.
“Unfortunately, the lack of action by the Marion County District Attorney prevented a trial that could have prohibited the suspect from possessing … other firearms,” said Rick Snyder, president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police. “Why didn’t the prosecutor request the hearing that the law requires? Why didn’t the public prosecutor use all available legal tools? Why didn’t the prosecutor try? “
The law allows the police to seize weapons from people who are considered dangerous to themselves or others. The prosecution can then decide whether to ask a court to prohibit that person from buying other firearms.
The law was put to the test after the attack after Mears criticized it for having too many “loopholes”. Despite calls from the Democratic legislature to review and strengthen the red flag provisions, these measures have been put on hold. The 2021 legislative period ended on Thursday.
Police seized a pump-action shotgun from Hole, then 18, in March 2020 after receiving the call from his mother. Mears said Monday that prosecutors had not requested a “red flag” hearing to try to prevent Hole from owning a gun because the law did not allow them to definitively demonstrate his suicidal tendencies .
Mears pointed out a 2019 amendment to the law requiring the courts to use good faith efforts to hold a hearing within 14 days. An additional change requires the authorities to submit an affidavit to the court within 48 hours.
“This person was picked up and treated by doctors and they were released,” and no drugs were even prescribed, Mears said. “The risk is that if we move forward with this (red flag) process and lose, we will have to return this firearm to that person. We weren’t ready for that. “
Indianapolis police previously said they never returned this shotgun to Hole. Authorities said he shot eight people, four of them from the city’s Sikh community, with two assault-style rifles on April 15 at the FedEx facility before killing himself.
Members and leaders of the Sikh community have called for law enforcement agencies to conduct a “thorough” and “transparent” investigation, including an investigation into the possibility of bias motivating Hole, said Satjeet Kaur, executive director of the Sikh coalition. However, these calls have so far avoided direct criticism of Mears.
“If it is found that this law made a mistake that could have prevented this tragedy, the law should be rectified,” said Kaur. “If the law is not properly implemented, those responsible must be held accountable.”
Republican Senator Erin Houchin, who sponsored changes to the Indiana red flag law in 2019, said it “could have worked exactly as it should” in the Hole case.
“I think if the prosecutor had followed the red flag procedure on this case, this 19-year-old might not have been able to buy a second gun after the family volunteered that gun,” said Houchin.
Mears didn’t return any messages on Friday for additional comments.
Indiana law does not require attorneys to hear Red Flag Law cases. Houchin said she would consider changing the language to “solidify” the process, but not until more facts about the shooting come to light.
Snyder said the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has referred at least 45 red flags to prosecutors so far this year. Mears said Monday that his office had filed eight red flag petitions since January. Everyone is still waiting for judgments.
“The prosecutor seems to have suggested that the system failed, but I would like to point out that the system did not fail in this case,” said Synder. “A loophole did not prevent this opportunity, instead the process was circumvented.”