Gary, IN — An 82-year-old "granddaddy" fought for his life for two months after police shot him but unfortunately succumbed to his injuries and died. According to the family, Melvin Bouler is partially deaf and couldn't hear the police commands, so an officer filled him full of holes. Now, a year and a half later and we are learning that the officer who killed Bouler will not be charged.
According to police, they responded to a call on a Sunday afternoon on November 17, 2019 after someone reported a man with a gun. According to the family, Melvin Bouler, 82, was getting into his car and leaving when police arrived.
As ABC 7 reported, Adjanay Okoe is not related to Bouler by blood, but said he's taken care of her since she was a child and thinks of him as her grandfather. She said he was visiting her mother when he got into an argument with her mother's boyfriend, who called police. She said, however, he was already being helped into his car to go home when officers arrived.
"My mom was trying to help my granddaddy," Okoe said. "You know my granddaddy is old, so she was trying to help him in the car and get him home ... and then the police pulled up. I guess they were trying to give him instructions."
Witnesses said they heard arguing between a man and a woman just prior to the police arriving, after which they heard officers yelling at the man as he sat inside a car. Then, about a dozen gunshots rang out.
Police claim that Bouler was sitting in his car and pulled a gun and pointed it at the officer when he arrived.
"[He] responded to the fire arm being pointed at him and commanded Bouler to drop the gun, fired his service weapon through the front window shield of the vehicle striking Bouler and causing him to drop the weapon," said Commander Michael Stewart, Lake County Sheriff's Office, according to ABC 7.
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This was contrary to the original claims as at the time, police never reported that Bouler pointed the gun at them, fired a shot, or was even holding the gun when they arrived.
The family says Bouler couldn't understand the officers' orders because he is deaf in one ear and so this confusion led to escalation and deadly force.
"My granddaddy is old. He can't hear out of one of his ears. He's 80 years old," Okoe said. "If you're going to be talking to my granddaddy you need to explain stuff to him. I have to repeat stuff three or four times so it's not like he was being defiant and going against what the police were saying. That wasn't the case at all."
In the state of Indiana, carrying a gun in public is not illegal. Both open carry and concealed carry are legal in the state. If Bouler never pointed the gun, this is no justification for police to open fire on him. If he was trying to shoot them, only then would they be justified. However, this does not appear to be the case as he never fired a round. It seems more likely that police yelled at an elderly man to obey them and because the elderly man is partially deaf, he didn't immediately obey. His failure to immediately obey was then justification for police to open fire.
As the image above shows, at least 10 rounds were fired into Bouler's car, which doesn't sit well with the family. According to their wrongful death lawsuit, Bouler was not intoxicated and was not a danger to anyone.
"It's just one of those things where it doesn't sit well with you," said Robert Beeman, Bouler family attorney.
Sadly, police officers assaulting or even killing deaf people for being unable to hear their commands is a tragic reality. As TFTP previously reported, like Mr. Bouler, Pearl Pearson Jr. learned that reality the hard way. For nearly seven minutes, Pearson, 64-years-old at the time and diabetic, was beaten and arrested by police officers as they yelled at him to stop resisting.
Last year, the taxpayers of Oklahoma were forced to pay for the brutal incompetence of the two Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers who beat him.