JASONVILLE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Greene County Prosecutor says a Jasonville Police officer was justified in his use of deadly force in shooting Stephen Scott Wheeler in April.

According to a release by Jarrod D. Holtsclaw, the shooting happened after the officer, Jasonville Police Chief Ryan Van Horn, repeatedly backed up and told Wheeler to drop a knife he was reportedly using to threaten others and the officer.

Holtsclaw describes bodycam footage that he says revealed that Van Horn had told Wheeler to drop the knife on 15 separate occasions, and offered to help the man during the encounter.

“During the encounter Wheeler continuously yelled and cursed at Chief Van Horn, including telling Chief Van Horn that ‘I don’t care, shoot me’ and later stated that he doesn’t care anymore and that he would shoot himself if he had a gun.”

Holtsclaw said once Wheeler was near the officer’s vehicle he charged Chief Van Horn with the knife raised. When Wheeler was about 6 feet away Chief Van Horn fired a single shot that struck Wheeler in the chest. After Wheeler fell to the ground the officer called for EMS and began to provide assistance, however Wheeler would later die from the gunshot wound to his chest.

Holtsclaw says under Indiana law, a person does not have the duty to retreat if they reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death to themselves or a third person. The prosecutor added that the law also allows for a law enforcement officers to use deadly force if they have cause to believe that it’s necessary to “prevent the commission of a forcible felony or to effect an arrest of a person who the officer has probable cause to believe poses a threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or a third person, and the officer has given a warning, if feasible, to the person against whom the deadly force is to be used.”

Stephen Wheeler was armed with a knife and threatening citizens in his neighborhood. Chief Van Horn arrived at Wheeler’s location and tried peacefully to talk to Wheeler about what had occurred, but Wheeler refused. Instead, Wheeler aggressively approached Chief Van Horn and threatened him with a knife, refusing to drop it after being ordered to do so on 15 different occasions. Though it is impossible to be certain, the language and actions Wheeler chose that day were consistent with someone who sought suicide by cop. Eventually, Wheeler charged at Chief Van Horn while armed with the knife and left Chief Van Horn no choice but to shoot him in order to avoid being stabbed. Under Indiana law, Chief Van Horn was justified in using deadly force in order to protect himself from serious bodily injury or death. His actions also served to protect others in the immediate area as well.

Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Jarrod D. Holtsclaw

To read the entire statement from Holtsclaw click here.