October 21, 2013



Media Contact: Curtis T. Hill, Jr.  296-1888


On September 1, 2013, the Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, the 9-1-1 dispatch center received notice from a concerned citizen in the 300 block of West Lusher Avenue that there were two (2) “suspicious” individuals, a white male and a possible Hispanic male, one of which had a handgun, in the area.  A few minutes later, another call was received by the dispatch center from a person in the 300 block of West Hubbard, just two (2) blocks north of the original call, reporting a white male and an Hispanic male trying to force their way into her neighbor’s house, and “they” had a gun.  The dispatch center notified EPD officers of a “burglary in progress,” at which time several officers in the vicinity responded.

Officers Reed and Johnson, EPD, arrived at the Hubbard Avenue scene and attempted to secure the subject residence.  Officer Reed observed a white male flee out the front door of the residence and run southwest, ignoring Officer Reed’s demands to stop.  Another male, later identified as Jaime Benavidez, also exited the front door carrying a black handgun in his hand.  Officer Reed also ordered Benavidez to stop and drop the gun; however, Benavidez refused to do so.  A female was also present and standing between Officer Reed and Benavidez during this encounter, precluding Officer Reed from having a safe opportunity to disarm Benavidez.  Later, it was determined that the residence on Hubbard was the home of a family member of Benavidez and though the actions of Benavidez and the other white male were unusual, it was determined that neither he nor the white male were attempting to commit a burglary.

Benavidez, still armed, began to run southbound through the yards of several residences in the area of the 300 blocks of West Hubbard, West Concord, and West Lusher, while numerous officers then in the area gave chase.  Several of the homeowners in the area reported seeing Benavidez run through their yards, approaching some as they were outside of their homes, while officers pursued and commanded Benavidez to stop and drop his gun.  One homeowner reported Benavidez actually entered his residence through a back door and sat down.  The homeowner could see a gun in Benavidez’s back pocket and told him to leave. 

Upon Benavidez leaving that residence, the chase continued to the front of 328 West Lusher where two (2) of the residents were just entering the front door.  Benavidez tried to force his way into 328 Lusher behind them, but the occupants inside the home that had been observing Benavidez and the pursuit, forced the door closed and locked it while others secured the children inside down to the basement for safety. 

At that time, Sgt. Karl Miller, Cpl. Bruce Anglemeyer, and Cpl. James Ballard were in different positions at the front of 328 West Lusher with their weapons pointed at Benavidez, commanding him to drop his gun and lie on the ground.  However, according to numerous witness accounts, Benavidez raised his gun toward the officers at which time all three (3) officers fired their weapons at Benavidez until Benavidez dropped his weapon and collapsed at the front door.

An EPD Supervisor immediately requested an ambulance, secured the scene, and secured the weapons of Sgt. Miller, Cpl. Anglemeyer, and Cpl. Ballard.  Shortly thereafter, the Indiana State Police were contacted to take over the investigation, a common practice amongst local law enforcement agencies. 

The white male, later identified as a juvenile, D.O, was apprehended in the 200 block of West Lusher after being chased through the same residential neighborhoods by police and taken into custody.  D.O. is already under the supervision of the Elkhart County Probation Department for a prior delinquent act and was on a weekend pass.   D.O. will be prosecuted for the delinquent act of Resisting Law Enforcement through the Juvenile Court.

After a thorough investigation was completed by the Indiana State Police, including a forensic autopsy and ballistics testing, and statements from several individuals that personally observed the events as indicated above, all case materials were submitted to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for review.   The case has been reviewed by the Prosecuting Attorney and found to document substantial evidence corroborating facts that Jaime Benavidez, age 27, of Elkhart, did possess a handgun which he utilized in a threatening manner toward police; Benavidez was substantially under the influence of a controlled substance and alcohol at the time of his actions; and, that Benavidez threatened the safety and security of the citizens of Elkhart which directly precipitated his death.

Although the Prosecuting Attorney has the ability to convene a Grand Jury to examine evidence and determine if the actions of the police officers involved in this case were reasonable under the circumstances, it is not required.  Accordingly, the evidence is clear and corroborated by independent observations thereby making use of the Grand Jury unnecessary.   The death of any human being at the hands of another person is rarely without significant impact upon others.  However, there are occasions where the safety and security of the community as a whole justify the use of deadly force.  Sgt. Miller, Cpl. Anglemeyer, and Cpl. Ballard, during the course of their duties as police officers, engaged in actions which collectively caused the death of Jaime Benavidez; however, their actions were a reasonable use of force under the circumstances presented and did not violate Indiana law.