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Questions remain surrounding Hammond Police officer-involved shooting that left man injured

4 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago Sunday, January 21 2024 Jan 21, 2024 January 21, 2024 1:45 PM January 21, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

HAMMOND - After releasing body-worn camera footage from a Hammond Police officer-involved shooting during the summer, the Hammond Police Chief and Hammond city officials have still declined to answer WBRZ's questions about if the shooting was justified and if proper procedures were followed. 

July 15, the Hammond Police Department sent a press release saying there was an officer-involved shooting while multiple officers executed a narcotics-based search warrant and the suspect was taken to a hospital.

Two days later, the police department sent an update saying the suspect, 41-year-old Lionell Jackson, was shot and would be booked for multiple drug-related charges after his release from a hospital. It said all officers involved were placed on administrative leave as an internal investigation was conducted.

On Wednesday, the WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained body cam footage from the morning Jackson was shot. Officer Craig Dunn led a team of officers through Jackson's trailer home into his bedroom, where Dunn leaned into the darkened doorway and fired one shot toward Jackson's bed. 

After the gunfire, body cam video shows Jackson with his hands up, moving from his bed to the bedroom floor while bleeding from his neck.

Jackson's attorney, Daryl Washington, has said his client was unarmed and the shooting was unjustifiable. Jackson was in the hospital for more than a week and a half and had three surgeries. 

After Jackson's release, more than a dozen residents in Hammond participated in a protestmarching from the town's city hall to the police station to ask for answers about Jackson's shooting. WBRZ reported that Jackson's mother, Cynthia Jackson, asked to file a complaint against Hammond Police Chief Edwin Bergeron due to his relationship with Officer Craig Dunn. Washington said Dunn is Bergeron's nephew. 

"If he wants to cover up his nephew who he raised as his son, then there is no way he should be in office," Washington said.

A month later, Washington told WBRZ that the Hammond Police Department should have passed the shooting investigation to State Police because none of the Hammond officers had correct certifications. 

In November, Washington filed a lawsuit against the Hammond Police Department and Craig Dunn on behalf of Jackson. Washington said the shooting was a display of excessive force. 

"We have said from the very beginning that Lionell did not do anything to justify any force being used on him," Washington said in a statement. "Craig Dunn betrayed his badge and the code of ethics, and he should be held fully accountable for his wrongful acts."

On Thursday, the Investigative Unit shuffled through thousands of pages of documents related to the shooting, including some of Chief Bergeron's emails. 

On Friday, WBRZ obtained footage of Officer Craig Dunn being questioned by Hammond Police's internal affairs personnel. 

Dunn explained his perspective of what happened.

"I was the first to see down the hallway. I saw the subject going, running, from the bathroom, or exiting the bathroom, running towards his bedroom, away from us, after giving several commands to stop, come to us," Dunn said.

Internal Affairs then asked him to confirm that he saw a subject running and that he gave verbal commands to Jackson, which Dunn said he did after he saw Jackson in the hallway.

"When we get to the threshold, I can see through the open door," Dunn said. "Obviously no body is there... I see most of him, he makes a motion to come at me with something in his right hand."

Jackson was holding a cell phone, but Dunn said he thought it could be a gun and felt his life was threatened. Dunn was wearing a body camera, but it was not turned on. 

The Investigative Unit has asked for a copy of the no-knock search warrant that officers were serving the day Jackson was shot. It has not been received. 

Police Chief Edwin Bergeron has declined to comment on the matters since July, but recently told the Hammond Star, "The complete truth will come out in the end when the whole case is reviewed, not just the clips shared by WRBZ to trigger views and clicks."

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