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Grand jury exonerates police in I-64 shooting

Five law-enforcement officers in Harrison County were cleared last week by a grand jury of wrongdoing in the shooting of a Louisville man last winter.
Harrison County Prosecutor Dennis Byrd said the grand jury, comprised of two men and four women, returned no indictments Thursday afternoon against the officers who shot at Trent Marion. He had allegedly stole meat from a Louisville grocery store, then led law enforcement officers from several departments on a high speed chase from the store, across the Ohio River and into Harrison County.
The officers are Capt. Jim Sadler and Marshal Gary T. Stinson, both of the Corydon Police Dept., Lt. Roy Wiseman and Officer Kevin Taylor, both of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept., and Bruce LaHue, who was jail commander at the time of the shooting on Jan. 20.
Grand jury proceedings are confidential, according to Byrd, but he would say that the six members heard testimony over three days (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) last week, then deliberated about an hour, Byrd said, before they reached their decision.
‘Sixteen police officers testified,’ Byrd said, ‘and they heard from 16 civilian witnesses through the law enforcement officers’ interviews.’
Most of the witnesses were persons who were on Interstate 64 when the chase and shooting occurred.
‘We call witnesses whom we believe will be helpful to the grand jury in making their decision,’ Byrd said.
Marion, who was 37 at the time of the shooting, did not appear before the grand jury. Byrd said Marion had indicated through his attorney that he would not answer any questions.
The man is accused of shoplifting at the Portland, Ky., Kroger store, then fleeing in his Ford Explorer when police tried to stop him. After entering Indiana on I-64, Marion allegedly reached speeds of 80 mph then escalated to 90 mph once in Harrison County.
Initial dispatches indicated that he was armed, but that proved untrue.
Marion finally was apprehended in the median near the 103-mile marker just west of Corydon after he was shot in both wrists and his right eye, which was later surgically removed.
He faces 11 felony counts in Harrison Superior Court of resisting law enforcement and two misdemeanor counts of criminal recklessness.
Sheriff Mike Deatrick, a Democrat who is seeking reelection next month, said he was glad his officers were cleared without any questions.
‘I was sure they would be because I know them, and I knew they acted in the good of the community,’ he said. ‘It’s a relief right here before the election so the public won’t think there is any questions.
‘I am so glad,’ he said.
Chief Marshal Jim Kendall was also pleased with the grand jury’s decision not to hand down any indictments.
Kendall, who also has a stake in the sheriff’s race, as he will be the new chief if Republican candidate Steve Priest is elected, said that the grand jury, after looking at the evidence, realized that the officers were following their training and experience.
The Rev. Louis Coleman of Louisville was protesting, again, Friday at the Harrison County Justice Center. He has contended that Byrd’s handling of the Marion case is a ‘disgrace and embarrassment to the judicial system.’
Byrd said he could have decided on his own not to file charges against the five officers who shot at Marion but opted to seat a grand jury.
‘Given the media attention of the case, I thought it was the best option for six members of our community to decide what’s best,’ he said.