To shoot or not to shoot ‘ that is the question
Sports are my primary game, but when a call came across the scanner on Jan. 20 about a high-speed chase that was nearing Harrison County on Interstate 64, I headed for the Corydon interchange. Police were tracking a person involved in an ‘armed robbery,’ and it could make for one heck of a photograph.
I figured I’d snap a few shots of the pursuit from the overpass, and head off to Lanesville to cover a basketball game against North Harrison.
What happened over the next two hours was a heavy dose of reality and confusion.
By the time I made it to the overpass, Trent Marion and his 1993 Ford Explorer were nearing a turnaround just before the Corydon exit. I saw a slew of police cars following him, what appeared to be two police cars in the turnaround, and two more cars in the median.
‘This looks like O.J. Simpson’s chase. The last time I saw this many police officers driving in one place, it was when I saw President Bush in Louisville.’
Marion drove into the grass just after the turnaround, then I heard a loud pop. Knowing this person had been involved in an armed robbery, I wasn’t sure if the sound was gunfire or a tire exploding. Either way, I briefly ducked for cover.
‘No picture is worth my life.’
A couple of seconds went by and since all of the vehicles continued, I took a few more photos. Marion and the chase vehicles were poking along much slower than the posted speed limit due to at least one flat tire.
‘This chase can’t go on much further with the guy having one flat tire. Maybe I should follow to see what happens.’
I hopped into my Explorer and tucked into formation behind the chase.
I was able to weave around the other motorists and catch up with the pursuit vehicles so I could get a better vantage point. Dodging large pieces of rubber in the road, I could tell the chase wasn’t going to last much longer, and sure enough, it didn’t.
‘No one is going to believe what I’m doing.’
I called back to the newsroom to find out more about what was going on, or if anything was being said on the police scanner. A few miles down the road, it seemed as though things were coming to a head.
‘Here we go. This could get interesting. Stay back, but make sure to get to where you can see everything.’
Marion’s Explorer limped into the median and it looked as though he was trying to turn around to head back east.
‘I can’t believe the police haven’t tried to box him in. With so many police cars, you’d think they could pull it off.’
The SUV turned into the ditch, eventually making a hard turn to the left in an attempt to turn around.
‘He’s trying to get away!’
With two deflated front tires and rims that were digging into the earth, the fleeing vehicle couldn’t quite make the turn. Marion backed up approximately 20 feet, put his car in drive and tried to continue through the middle of the median.
By now, several officers had surrounded Marion with guns drawn.
Marion put the SUV in drive and drove another 30 feet before his car came to a halt.
‘My gosh, I think they are shooting.’
I cracked off several frames, then drove around the remainder of vehicles that were between myself and the scene. I parked in the emergency lane and started taking photos again as I walked towards the spectacle, making sure I didn’t catch any gore.
‘I don’t want to see a dead person.’
As smoke and steam billowed from the Explorer, EMT workers and even one of the shooters were tending to Marion. He was carried to an ambulance, and later rolled over to STATCARE air ambulance for transport to University Hospital for three wounds: one to each wrist and another to the right eye.
‘Considering the number of bullet holes in the Explorer, this guy should be happy he’s alive.’
Examining the photos, in the front and driver’s side, I counted 18 bullet holes, which would be an average of almost four shots between the five shooters. Marion was hit three times, though it’s unclear how many bullets could have caused the multiple injuries. Most of the holes are contained to the engine area.
I’ve been asked and I’ve debated on whether or not I thought the shooting was justified.
I can’t honestly say.
I have a Ford Explorer myself, so I can attest to its weight (after trying to push-start it one time after the battery had died). I can’t imagine if one was driving in my direction with someone behind the wheel who had just assaulted two Louisville police officers, or led other officers on a high-speed chase.
What if Marion had made it back onto the eastbound side of I-64? What if he caused a traffic fatality? What if he turned out to be an armed man (as was erroneously reported to police) and fled on foot, eventually taking hostages in a house on S.R. 62?
And even though Marion wound up not having a gun, he was definitely in possession of a deadly weapon: his Ford Explorer, which was so ‘stuck in the mud’ that it managed to drive 20 feet forward, 20 feet backward and 30 feet forward again.
I think the police thought this was the best time to corner Marion, and, unfortunately, Marion wasn’t ready to be apprehended.
I do believe there was an obvious error in how the crime was reported ‘ in Louisville as shoplifting and in Indiana as an armed robbery ‘ and I think some officers were caught in a cross-fire situation when the bullets started flying.
Those are some of the questions I hope to see answered and released to the public in the coming weeks through a complete and thorough investigation.