Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards declined to file charges in the fatal November police-action shooting of 31-year-old Antron Fetti L. Pearson.
Pearson was shot by a Fort Wayne police officer outside Broadway Joe’s Tavern, 2514 Broadway.
Richards said Monday the officer was justified in using deadly force after having responded to a call of multiple shots fired outside the bar near Huestis Avenue.
Earlier in the evening of Nov. 26, police took a report of multiple shots fired in the area behind the tavern and responded to the area, Richards said.
Officer Joshua A. Franciscy stayed in the area to make sure everything was all right when he heard another shot. He then saw Pearson walking through the parking lot, carrying a handgun down at his side.
As Franciscy confronted Pearson, Pearson took a step backward, which indicated he was taking a possible shooting position, Richards said.
The officer knew a gun had been fired, she said. You’re protecting yourself from imminent danger.
Although no witnesses saw Pearson fire the gun behind the bar, forensics matched a shell casing found at the scene with the gun taken from Pearson’s body, Richards said.
Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York said he was confident that his department as well as the Indiana State Police conducted a thorough investigation.
After the shooting, there were rumors that Pearson was not armed, and that the circumstances were different from what the official investigation found, York said.
Pearson was definitely armed, and failed to comply with the officer’s direction when he was confronted, York said.
In addition to previous arrests for robbery and battery, Pearson had a history of fighting with or threatening police. In 2005, he kicked an officer in the groin when he was arrested. In 2010, he was charged with intimidation after he threatened to kill police. In that altercation, he was seen stealing tires from a vehicle, police said.
Although neither Pearson’s DNA nor fingerprints were found on the gun, York said the absence of such evidence is not unusual because of the number of variables involved – such as where a gun is handled, the temperature at the time and how much the gun is handled.
But there were never any questions in the investigator’s mind that Pearson was armed, York said.
Franciscy saw the gun, ordered Pearson several times to drop it and then fired when Pearson took a furtive position, York said.
A video from the officer’s car showed the confrontation but did not show clearly whether Pearson had a gun in his hand because of the darkness at the scene, York said.
It did show, however, that the officer never went near the body, taking cover after firing the shots. Such evidence contradicted speculation by some that police put the gun in Pearson’s hand.
You can see the officer much more clearly than you can Mr. Pearson, York said.
York recognized that the fatal shooting was a tragedy for all involved, from Pearson’s family to the officer himself, but added the responsibility for the shooting was Pearson’s.
The actions of Mr. Pearson, and the fact that he possessed a firearm, had a firearm in his hand, and refused to follow the directions of the officer, is directly why this happened.
A message left for Pearson’s mother was not returned Monday.
In late December, Pearson’s family led a March for Justice from the tavern to the Allen County Courthouse.
Initially on paid administrative leave, Franciscy had returned to full duty but is now on military deployment, York said.