Prosecutor: Officer who shot armed motorist was justified

·2 min read
This photo provided by The Indiana State Police, police investigate a shooting late Monday, May 16, 2022 near Palmyra, Ind. Two men were fatally shot after a police officer and two good Samaritans stopped along a southern Indiana highway to help a driver who was stopped in the roadway, police said. The shooting happened Monday night after an officer with the Palmyra Police Department stopped to assist the “apparent stranded motorist” on State Road 135, Indiana State Police said, but they didn’t say what precipitated the gunfire or who fired the shots. (The Indiana State Police via AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

CORYDON, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana police officer who fatally shot a stranded motorist who opened fire on him was justified in doing so, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The Palmyra reserve police officer nearly was struck by a shotgun blast fired by Justin Moore, 31, of Owensboro, Kentucky, Harrison County Prosecutor Otto Schalk said during a news conference Wednesday.

Schalk said he and other authorities extensively reviewed the officer’s body and dashboard camera footage as well as camera footage captured on private property, the News and Tribune reported. The footage left “zero doubt” about the officer’s actions, he said.

“It clearly showed that the officer was justified in his actions and his decisions to use lethal force,” Schalk said.

The shotgun blast Monday night killed a volunteer firefighter who had stopped to help, Jacob Tyler McClanahan, 24, of Corydon.

Indiana State Police on Wednesday identified the officer as Reserve Officer Zachary Holly of the Palmyra Police Department.

Holly, who has been with the department for about four years, has taken a voluntary leave of absence, the newspaper reported.

It remains unclear why Moore opened fire on the others.

After Holly arrived at the scene along on State Road 135, he asked Moore if he had any weapons, and Moore said he was carrying a small pocket knife. Moore didn’t mention he had a gun inside of the vehicle, Schalk said.

Holly asked Moore to put the knife back inside of his vehicle, Schalk said.

“As soon as Mr. Moore reached inside of his vehicle, he pulled out a shotgun, immediately firing a round at the officer,” Schalk said.

A second shot fired by Moore struck McClanahan, fatally wounding him.

Holly returned fire and Moore died from his injuries shortly after being shot, Schalk said.