INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer was fatally shot responding to a domestic dispute Thursday afternoon at an east side apartment complex, the chief said.
The officer was identified as Patrol Officer Breann Leath, 24. She is a lifelong Indianapolis resident who graduated from Southport High School, said Chief Randal Taylor. She also was a member of the Army National Guard.
“She is the example of the type of officer we want in this department,” Taylor said.
He made the announcement shortly before 5:15 p.m. outside Eskenazi Hospital.
The death in the line of duty was the first for IMPD since July 5, 2014. Officer Perry Renn was shot and killed when responding to a report of shots fired near the intersection of East 34th Street and Forest Manor Avenue, according to The Officer Down Memorial Page.
Leath is the 62nd line-of-duty death of an Indianapolis police officer. She had been with IMPD for 2-1/2 years.
A Facebook post from IMPD East District about Leath in February 2019 said she was a graduate of the department’s 16th recruit class.
“Officer Leath said that she grew up in a law enforcement family so becoming a Police Officer felt like a natural choice for a career. Her Dad is a Deputy Sheriff and her Mother is Control Operator with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office,” the Facebook post said.
Leath has a son, the post said.
“They have asked for privacy during their mourning,” IMPD said in an email.
Also in 2019, Leath was named the East District’s officer of the month. A Facebook post from the East District on that honor said, “Recently we highlighted her compassion for an elderly resident whom was the victim of a fraud and Officer Leath took some extra time with the citizen to explain how to manage some finances in order to have independence. She even purchased the citizen his favorite meal in order to brighten his day.”
After the shooting on the far east side, authorities shut down I-70 to rush the police officer to the hospital.
The shooting occurred just after 2:45 p.m. in the 1800 block of Edinburge Square. That’s in an apartment complex located southeast of the I-70 interchange with I-465.
At the shooting scene, IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said police had responded to a domestic disturbance between a man and a woman. A woman in the residence also was shot, he said. One suspect is in custody, Bailey said. The suspect has not been identified, but is being questioned, IMPD said.
The woman’s condition was initially described as not serious, but IMPD later said she was taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital in stable condition. Neither the man or the woman were identified by police.
“As officers knocked on the door of the apartment, shots were fired through the structure, striking Officer Breann Leath. Responding officers pulled Officer Leath to a safe area,” said an IMPD news release issued Thursday night.
Southport Police Department Lt. Aaron Allen was the most recent line-of-duty death in Marion County. He was shot and killed after responding to a crash involving an overturned vehicle at the intersection of Maynard Drive and Madison Avenue about 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2017, in Homecroft.
The Southport department tweeted about Leath’s death, “Today, the community lost a hero. @IMPDnews Officer and Southport HS graduate, Breann Leath was killed in responding to a call. Please keep her family and the Indianapolis Metro Police Department in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your service, Officer Leath.”
Announcing the death
During the announcement outside Eskenazi Hospital, Rich Snyder, the president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, fought back a wave emotion as he spoke. “As a personal note, we would ask humbly that our residents, as they always do, step forward and reaffirm your support for our officers that continue to stand the line.”
Also outside Ezkenazi Hospital, Mayor Joe Hogsett asked the city to remember Leath at 8 p.m., even if it was in their own homes due to the governor’s “stay at home” order during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Light a candle, say a prayer, hug your family and remember how lucky we are to have brave men and brave women like Officer Leath,” Hogsett said.
Many landmarks across Indianapolis were already scheduled going blue Thursday night as part of a nationwide movement called Light It Blue. But, the eventit took on a very different meaning and a very somber tone after the Leath’s death hours earlier. On Monument Circle, dozens of emergency vehicles with their lights flashing were surrounded by blue spotlights on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
Also outside Ezkenazi Hospital, Rich Snyder, the president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, fought back a wave emotion as he spoke. “As a personal note, we would ask humbly that our residents, as they always do, step forward and reaffirm your support for our officers that continue to stand the line.”
Residents who want to participate in the Light It Blue campaign can do so by wearing a blue shirt or turning their porch light blue. But for many, their participation after the shooting is a black or blue bar going across their social media profiles.
Colleagues and loved ones placed a sign outside IMPD’s East District headquarters Thursday night in memory of Leath. “We love our hero,” the sign read.
Sgt. Jim Gillespie, a street supervisor for IMPD’s Southeast District, tweeted, “Gone too soon. Rest In Peace Officer Breann Leath. Shot and killed after responding to a Domestic Violence Incident. Please continue to pray for her family, lMPD, and Indianapolis community as we work through this tragedy. #LODD#RIP#NeverForget.”
The Rev. Charles Harrison, who leads a local church and the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, tweeted, “I am saddened to learn of the shooting of the IMPD officer & a female victim. Everyday these IMPD officers put their lives on the line to serve & protect the residents of Indianapolis. My thoughts & prayers are with both the IMPD officer & the female victim.”
Marion County Sheriff’s Office tweeted, “Our hearts are broken over the loss of IMPD Officer Breann Leath this afternoon in the line of duty. Please join us in praying for her family – our family – and our brothers and sisters at @IMPDnews and @IMPDEast.”
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued this statement: “Officer Leath gave her life as she answered the call of duty. Janet and I are heartbroken for her family, friends and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. I ask every Hoosier to join me in honoring Officer Leath’s courageous service and dedication to her community. She will be forever remembered for being the finest among us.”
Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch issued this statement: “I join the entire city of Indianapolis in mourning the loss of Officer Breann Leath. She embodied courage when she chose to run toward danger to protect others from harm. Her sacrifice and service to Indiana will not be forgotten. I am praying for her family, son, fellow IMPD officers and all that loved her. May God hold you all and keep you strong in this time of need.”
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears tweeted, “Tonight the family of Officer Leath, IMPD, and all of our law enforcement partners are in our thoughts. This tragedy comes at a particularly challenging time for all first responders. We appreciate and respect their service and sacrifice. @IMPDnews“
Kelly McBride, executive director of Domestic Violence Network, issued this statement through a spokesperson: “Our thoughts are with the loved ones of Officer Leath and the entire Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Officer Leath died doing what so many brave officers do day after day – responding to calls for help from victims of domestic violence and bravely coming to their rescue. We will honor Officer Leath by continuing to provide resources to the community and letting victims know they are not alone.”
Chrystal M. Ratcliffe, president of the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP, issued this statement: “On behalf of the executive committee and members of the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP, I extend our condolences and prayers to the family of IMPD Officer Breann Leath. A lifelong Indianapolis resident, she was a veteran and a loving mother. She learned about public service at an early age from her family. We are lifting up her family, friends and colleagues in prayer as we thank God for her service to our community. You are in our hearts this evening, and in the days and weeks to come.”
Chief Taylor also tweeted following his news conference, “It is with a broken heart and a shaken resolve that I announce the loss of @IMPDnews Officer Breann Leath (B231) who today was shot and killed responding to a domestic call. Please keep Officer Leath’s family and ours in your prayers. #CommunityHero”
The chief issued another message in Thursday night’s news release: “Officer Leath was an example of what an IMPD officer should be. She showed resolve, strength, and compassion in a dangerous job, and was always focused on serving the community she loved. She will be sorely missed. Even while faced with an officer down, our East District officers demonstrated professionalism and courage as they brought her and a resident to safety, de-escalated the scene, and apprehended a dangerous suspect without further incident. I could not be more proud of the actions of Officer Leath and her colleagues on this heavy day.”
IU Health announced a “thank you” parade planned for Thursday night at its downtown hospitals has been canceled due to the police shooting.