Prosecutor: Fort Wayne officer who shot teen ‘justified’

(WANE Photo)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The Fort Wayne Police officer who shot a teenager in the back during a chase along the city’s south side in June will not face charges.

Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards said in a press conference midday Thursday that Officer Robert Hollo was justified and acting in self defense when he fired off four shots at a 17-year-old boy just before 1:30 p.m. June 21 in the 2800 block of Smith Street, near the Whitney M. Young Early Childhood Center at East Pontiac Street. The teen was struck in the lower back and seriously injured.

Hollo said he was investigating reports of gang activity in the area, in an unmarked car, when a teen approached the vehicle in an alley. Richards said looking at dash cam video it appeared the teen was carrying a gun. The officer then drove a little further, parked his car and started pursuing the individual.

Richards said as the officer was focused on one teen, dash cam video shows another one hiding in nearby bushes. Richards said she believed the teens were out in the area because one of their homes was shot during a drive by shooting the previous night. She said the officers car matched the description of the shooter’s car and may have caught their attention.

Hollo lost sight of the teen he was first focused on and pursuing, but was then confronted by the teen that had been hiding in the bushes. That was not caught on camera, but Hollo told investigators that the teen had a gun and pointed it at him. Hollo said he repeatedly told the teen to stop and get down. Witnesses told investigators they heard Hollo telling the teen to stop.

Hollo fired four shots at the teen, hitting him once in the back. Richards said she believes the teen reached back and pointed the gun at the officer during the pursuit.

Police at the time said no gun was found on the teen after the shooting.

Richards said there are a series of jail phone calls from people who know the teen that was shot to other people who also know the teen that were intercepted by police. Richards said the two individuals talked about what happened to the teen and his gun. The individuals talked about how police were searching for it but had not found it in the ally. Police continued searching, and three days later found the gun in the ally.

Another piece of evidence police recovered was the cell phone belonging to the teen that was shot. Investigators looked through the phone and found the teen had been trying to sell a gun just like the one police found at the scene.

“I am convinced beyond any doubt at all that this young man was armed,” said Richards.

The boy’s mother, Gina Dodson, told NewsChannel 15 days after the shooting that Hollo should be removed from the force, or at least demoted to “answering a telephone or something like that, but surely not out here gunning down people’s children.”

In July, then, the mother of the teen filed an excessive force lawsuit against Hollo in federal court.

Richards said Thursday that a case against the juvenile is under review.

Hollo, an eight-year veteran of the Fort Wayne Police Department, has had two letters of reprimand and a suspension for police vehicle crashes. He’s also had two letters of praise. He currently has two pending lawsuits, and another one has been settled.

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