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Report: Bloomington Police Acted Properly in Shooting of Teen

The Bloomington Board of Public Safety has approved the Bloomington Police Department’s internal investigation into an officer’s shooting of a 16-year-old male on January 7.

The board unanimously accepted the BPD’s assertion its officers used “reasonable and necessary” force during the incident and properly followed department procedures.

But the report was not without its critics. Nearly a dozen individuals delivered comments critical of the report during the public comment section of Wednesday’s meeting. One person questioned the absence of an interview with the victim of the shooting.

Police Chief Mike Diekoff says the BPD has requested to speak with the teenager through his attorney.

“He has Constitutional rights. He does not have to talk to us at all,” Diekoff said.
“So, we have made a request and will wait and see.”

Bloomington police officer John Coleman, a 33-year-old veteran of the force, shot the teenager twice in the chest after the 16-year old allegedly ran toward him with a knife at the downtown Bloomington Transit station.

Some members of the public complained to the Board of Public Safety that the police’s investigation was based on statements made by police and only a few eye witnesses.

Diekoff said the BPD would interview more witnesses if they come forward, but maintains his belief the police’s investigation is accurate.

“We interviewed seven or eight individual witnesses who were right there. Several of them saw the events unfold and saw it happen,” Diekoff said. “A couple of them heard the commands and the shots. They didn’t actually see it happen, but they heard what happened. I am confident we interviewed all the people who witnessed it.”

The teenager has been released from the hospital, but still has not been charged with a crime. According to the BPD’s report, the 16-year-old Bloomington North High School student is accused of dialing 911 and describing himself as someone who was threatening to kill police, in addition to charging toward Officer Coleman with a knife.

Diekoff would not say whether the teenager is being monitored by police while recovering from his injuries.

“Anyone who would set this up and call, we don’t believe that is normal, typical type behavior,” Diekoff said. “We’re sure he’s being watched by his family and I’ll leave it at that.”

Diekoff said the police department wants the Monroe County prosecutor to press charges against the teenager, but will have to wait until a separate criminal investigation is complete.

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