MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The Montgomery County prosecutor issued a ruling Wednesday stating the state trooper who fatally shot a suspect on U.S. 231 acted in self-defense and will not face criminal charges.
"Any time someone dies as a result of police action, hard questions need to be asked and an appropriate investigation needs to be done," said Montgomery County Prosecutor Joseph Buser.
"Sufficient evidence exists that Mr. Organ was subjectively in fear of death or serious bodily injury and that he honestly believed a gun was being drawn to shoot him," said the conclusion from Buser. "From the facts and circumstances known to Mr. Organ at the time of the shooting, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Organ's actions were not objectively reasonable. The State cannot disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. This Office concludes that the State of Indiana will not file criminal charges against Daniel Organ."
At 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 28, Glenn Rightsell was on the side of U.S. 231, trying to fix his daughter's disabled SUV. According to court documents, two hours later, he was dead by a gunshot wound to the mouth.
Trooper Daniel Organ told investigators he fired the shots after he believed he saw Rightsell reach for his gun.
According to the prosecutors office, Rightsell called Montgomery County Dispatch about the vehicle earlier that day. He told them he didn't want the car to be ticketed, and would repair it soon. The message was forwarded to state police dispatch, but not to all troopers in the field, including Daniel Organ.
At 6:35 p.m., Organ saw Rightsell under the hood of the vehicle, with a handgun on his waist belt. Organ says he turned on his police lights and took his gun out of the holster, but kept it down by his hip. He says he identified himself and added, "Don't reach for your gun Do you need help?"
The document describes Rightsell's movement like this: "He looked at Mr. Organ and pushed his body away from the Tahoe, rolling up on his left hip. Mr. Rightsell also brought his right hand back. To Mr. Organ, this motion was consistent with drawing a handgun."
Organ fired six shots, though he told investigators he only recalled firing three.
News 18 received video from a witness who said Rightsell had no medical attention for 20 minutes. The prosecutor's investigation verifies this. It indicates Rightsell was was on the ground but still in possession of his weapon and conscious until 6:46 p.m. He was also still conscious at the hospital, where he told two nurses he didn't know why the officer fired at him. Over the next hour, his condition would worsen, until he was pronounced dead.
After the fact, police learned that Rightsell had had an incident of resisting law enforcement in the past - however Organ had no knowledge of that at the time of the shooting.
Glenn A. Rightsell, 56, of Linden was working on a disabled car on U.S 231 near North Montgomery High School when he was approached by Trooper Daniel Organ and the shooting occurred.
The report said Rightsell had a functional and loaded semi-automatic pistol in an open-top holster on his right hip when he was approached by the trooper.