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No Charges in Death of Melvin Bouler

A much awaited opinion from a Lake County grand jury resulted in a “no bill” to indict, Prosecutor Bernard Carter announced Thursday, in the matter of the State of Indiana vs Brandon Henderson.

Melvin Bouler
Melvin Bouler

The grand jury was called to hear evidence on whether Henderson, a Gary Police officer should face charges of murder and reckless homicide in the 2019 shooting and later death of Melvin Bouler, an 82-year-old Gary resident.

Evidence presented to the grand jury was prepared by the Lake County Sheriff’s Dept., the agency in charge of the investigation.

The prosecutor’s office will not bring charges against Henderson.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter
Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter

Carter made the announcement last Thursday at a morning press conference, but without responding to questions from the media. Carter said he could not discuss the grand jury’s findings. Instead Lake County Detective Michael Stewart read a 15-page report, which has been made public, summarizing his department’s investigation.

Jamise Perkins, attorney for Officer Henderson, did take reporter’s questions following the press conference.

“He has been waiting for this day for two years. He is very grateful to the Lake County Sheriff and Prosecutor offices for the detail and amount of time, the effort they put into this investigation to make sure that they didn’t leave stones unturned. They took their time and presented a complete case to the grand jury,” Atty. Perkins said.

Perkins said the shooting and death of Bouler has impacted Henderson and his entire family; that Henderson only fired his weapon because he feared for his life.

Atty. Perkins said Henderson cooperated fully throughout the entire process. “In terms of a criminal investigation, he didn’t have to, but he voluntarily waived his rights and provided interviews to detectives. When we learned there was a grand jury investigation, he waived his 5th Amendment right not to testify. As a defense attorney, 99.9% of the time, I advise my clients not to testify.”

Bouler’s death in January 2020 and the few facts known about the evening of Sunday, November 17, 2019 when he was shot by Officer Henderson raised a public outcry for answers.

Much of the report centers on details from Officer Henderson and two (2) witnesses.

When Police Received Calls For Assistance and Their Responses

At 4:58pm, Gary police responded to a call for assistance at 2450 Roosevelt Street. The nature of the call was reported to be an intoxicated male at an apartment building with a gun, later identified as Melvin Bouler.

The report states the call came from witness Russ Stigger.

At 5:01pm, radio dispatchers asked any available unit to respond to the address in reference to an impaired man in the lobby with a gun yelling fire. Officer Henderson acknowledged the request, replying he was enroute.

Three minutes later, Officer Henderson advised dispatch of his arrival.

At 5:06pm. witness TaShanda DeBerry called the police requesting an ambulance after seeing Bouler shot. DeBerry is Stigger’s girlfriend.

Also at 5:06pm, Officer Henderson requested medics and a supervisor to the area.

Eric Bouler (center),
Eric Bouler (center), son of Melvin Bouler

Detectives Interview Officer Henderson and Two Witnesses

Stigger, at the time age 50, told investigators he arrived at DeBerry’s home in the Small Farms Apartments, 2450 Roosevelt Street on the evening of November 17th. He parked next to Bouler’s car in the parking lot.

Stigger learned from DeBerry that Bouler was downstairs at the apartment’s back door. DeBerry told Stigger that she had heard knocking at the door. From a window, she had seen Bouler lying on the ground and told Stigger that Bouler may be intoxicated.

Stigger said he went downstairs and found Bouler lying on the ground. He noticed a gun on Bouler. He said DeBerry came down and they helped Bouler to his feet and into the building, leading him to the front entrance where his car was parked.

Instead of leaving the building, Stigger said Bouler sat down on the steps in the front lobby and said something about killing DeBerry. Stigger said that’s when he called 911.

He said Bouler stood up, walked toward the door, and then turned around, pointing a gun at him. DeBerry ran to the second floor and Stigger ducked behind a stairwell wall.

Bouler left the building and sat in his car. Stigger said he saw an officer arrive and he stepped out of the front door, pointing to Bouler’s car.

Stigger said he saw the officer approach Bouler’s car and heard the officer ask 7-8 times for Bouler to show both of his hands. He heard shots and had to stop DeBerry from running outside.

DeBerry called 911 and asked for an ambulance.

DeBerry, age 39 at the time, told detectives she was a home healthcare professional. She had known Bouler for 8-9 years and he was a friend and client.

The day before he was shot, Bouler had taken DeBerry’s daughters skating. Bouler would let DeBerry use his car.

In recent months, she said, Bouler had made sexual advances towards her when he was intoxicated. DeBerry said Bouler knew she was in a relationship with Stigger.

DeBerry’s account of the events on Sunday night match Stigger’s.

Officer Henderson told detectives he stood outside of Bouler’s car on the passenger side. Bouler was in the driver’s seat. Henderson said he identified himself as a Gary Police Officer and asked Bouler to show his hands. After several times asking, Bouler reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet. The wallet fell on the floor.

Officer Henderson said he continued to ask Bouler to show his hands. Henderson said Bouler reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun. Henderson said Bouler pointed the gun at him and that’s when he fired his weapon through the windshield.

Bouler had received 5 shots to the torso and one to the wrist. Medics arrived and took him to the hospital.

Henderson surrendered his weapon and ammunition to a supervisor. A Gary Police officer escorted him to the hospital.

Atty. Perkins said, “Standard operating procedure in Gary for an officer-involved shooting is a drug screen. Henderson was tested for drugs and alcohol. He was clean.”

The Lake County detective’s report did not include a toxicology analysis on Bouler.

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