Gary, IN — An 82-year-old "granddaddy" is currently fighting for his life after police opened fire on him Sunday night. According to the family, the elderly victim is partially deaf and couldn't hear the police commands, so they filled him full of holes.
According to police, they responded to a call Sunday afternoon 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 reports, 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.
Gary police have been tight lipped since the shooting, refusing to release any details other than the following statement.
Upon officers arrival they encountered a male armed with a gun. The male refused to follow officers orders and shots were fired. The male was transported to an area hospital for treatment. No officers were injured in the incident. The Lake County Sheriff's Department will conduct the investigation.
Police never reported that Bouler pointed the gun at them, fired a shot, or was even holding the gun when they arrived.
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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 did have a 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. 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. He is currently listed in critical condition and is fighting for his life.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson released the following canned statement in regards to the shooting of the elderly man, urging the public not to jump to conclusions:
"Anytime there is a shooting in our city, we are concerned. This is equally true when there is police action involved. We are aware that Mr. Bouler's age heightens the concern of all concerned, including his family and our citizens. We have spoken with Mr. Bouler's family and want to assure the community that we are committed to a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding his shooting. We join everyone in praying for his a speedy recovery. Finally, I would caution the public against reaching conclusions without all of the information."
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.