NM police officer cleared in shooting

By Josh Sigler

A fatal police-action shooting involving North Manchester police officer Parker Stouffer on March 6 has been ruled a legally justifiable act by Wabash County Prosecutor William Hartley, Jr., and will not result in criminal charges.

Hartley reviewed the investigation by Indiana State Police regarding the shooting, which took place at 1601 State Road 114 in North Manchester.

Hartley concluded after an examination of the investigation, which included statements from civilian and police witnesses, an interview with Stouffer, the autopsy report, the toxicology report, photographs, body camera video, ISP crime lab reports, and the use of force policy for the North Manchester Police Department, that the use of force which resulted in the deadly shooting was warranted.

On March 6 at approximately 6 p.m., Stouffer initiated a traffic stop near the intersection of State Road 114 and State Road 13 of a pickup truck driven by Michael A. Kline, 40, for minor traffic infractions.

Kline eventually pulled into the Eel River Inn parking lot, and Stouffer made contact with Kline and two other occupants on Kline’s vehicle.

At approximately the same time, Officer Nate Birch arrived with his K-9 partner, and a decision was made to run the K-9 around the vehicle during the course of the traffic stop.

The occupants were asked to exit the vehicle at that time, and as Kline exited the vehicle, he drew a handgun and pointed it at officers.

At that point, Officer Stouffer discharged his firearm in the direction of Kline. Kline was struck and was pronounced dead the scene.

Kline was found to be in possession of a 9 mm handgun with 11 rounds in the magazine.

During a subsequent search in the vehicle, Kline was found to also be in possession of methamphetamine, and other drug-related items, the prosecutor’s office said in a press release.

An autopsy later found that Kline had several drugs in his system at the time of his death, including amphetamines, methamphetamine and marijuana.

Hartley provided Indiana Code 35-41-3-2(c) in a press release. The code states, in part that “a person is justifiable in using deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony. No person in the state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.”

“After thorough review of this case, it is clear that Officer Stouffer was justified in using deadly force as it is reasonable to believe that the force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to himself or the other officers in the immediate area,” the prosecutor’s office stated in the press release. “Accordingly, no criminal charges will be filed in this matter.”

Posted on 2018 Apr 24