Officers Return to Duty After Dashcam Video Released
Journal and Courier via YellowBrix
March 29, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE – Two West Lafayette police officers who shot a man armed with a pellet gun March 18 will return to street duty today, Police Chief Jason Dombkowski said Monday.
At a morning press conference, Dombkowski announced an internal shooting review board found that Officers Michael Max and Mark Ridge acted within department policy when they shot Eric W. Tendam, 42.
Dombkowski announced his affirmation of the findings and the officers’ reinstatement to full duty from paid administrative leave. The officers returned to work Monday, the chief said, but they needed to complete other duties before returning to the streets.
“We train for these incidents, and I can honestly say that I have no reservation about how our officers acted,” Dombkowski said.
“Without reservation … I made the decision to place those officers back in our community to protect and serve with honor. They did an outstanding job with the circumstances … that they faced.”
Police also released a partial video of the events that transpired the morning of March 18. Footage that shows Tendam being shot was not released, Dombkowski said, because the department believes doing so would be in bad taste.
The released footage depicts a bizarre incident that began at 9:33 a.m., on Garfield Lane near Stadium Avenue. That’s when a patrolling Max encountered Tendam riding a red lawn tractor.
Max had spotted Tendam weaving in and out of traffic, running a stop sign and pulling in front of a truck, according to a probable cause affidavit filed earlier in Tippecanoe Circuit Court.
In the early seconds of the video, Tendam can be seen riding the tractor in front of Max’s squad car, apparently pointing something at him.
Shortly after, Max can be heard reporting that the rider has pulled a gun.
“You can’t see that the suspect actually points his gun a second time at Officer Max as he pursues him,” Lt. Troy Harris said during the press conference.
The affidavit said Tendam, who was wearing a red backpack, also yelled “there is a bomb coming” at Max.
The video shows Max’s and Tendam’s paths intersecting again in front of a parking garage on Sylvia Street, near Hayes. Tendam then disembarks the tractor and begins walking away from Max. At that point, Ridge had arrived on the scene from the east, at 9:34 a.m.
The video shows Tendam marching toward Ridge. He continues to advance as the officer shouts for him to stop.
Just after the officer stops shouting, Tendam levels his firearm — found afterward to be CO2-powered pellet gun — at Ridge. The video stops there.
According to slides accompanying the video, the officers reported shots fired at 9:35 a.m. Seconds later, they requested medical help.