South Bend officers will not be charged in Thursday's shooting
The three officers who encountered a man with knives in the 2000 block of Western Avenue Thursday will not be charged after one officer shot and killed the man.
The announcement came during a press conference Friday afternoon at St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit.
56-year-old Rafael Ramirez was shot after allegedly
St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter said veteran officer James Dennin fired twice after Ramirez refused to back up or put down his knives when police arrived. Sgt. Kevin Gibbons and officer Ernesto Ramirez also responded to the call.
Officials also played audio of the officers' encounter with Rafael Ramirez.
While the investigation has led to the conclusion that the officers were not at fault, all those involved wish it had ended differently.
"'Unfortunate' is not the right word, but that's the only thing I can come up with," said Prosecutor Ken Cotter. "It is unfortunate that they were forced to do this. But based on the evidence that we have, they had, at least in their own minds, no other choice. It was reasonable for them to believe that, and we therefore are concluding that this was a justified homicide."
Cotter said an autopsy was performed Friday morning and concluded that Rafael Ramirez died as a result of the two gunshot wounds.
Friends and neighbors of Ramirez say they are baffled by the incident.
They say he was a kind man who never threatened anyone, but who struggled with physical and mental health problems.
A former co-worker of Ramirez's says she hopes people don't judge Ramirez for his actions on that day without knowing him personally.
"People shouldn't judge him because they don't know who he really was," said former co-worker Maria Herrera. "He was a wonderful person, really wonderful, honestly. And it hurts me a lot that he's no longer with us."
As for the officers involved in the shooting, Cotter says they will follow South Bend Police protocol, which includes taking a leave of absence and going through counseling.