Crime Watch 8

Speedway police name officer in fatal shooting of accused arsonist

DeAire Gray in a December 2019 mugshot. (Provided Photo/Wayne Township Police Department)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — Speedway Police Department on Monday identified the officer involved in the fatal police shooting of an accused arsonist in February.

Officer Robby Harris has been with Speedway Police Department since April 2000, according to personnel documents released Monday.

Around 11:30 p.m. Feb. 12, officers in the 5900 block of West 25th Street came upon a man, later identified as DeAire Gray, who ran from officers. Police chased him on foot, and he displayed a gun, according to the police department. One officer, now identified as Harris, fired his weapon, striking Gray.

Gray was taken to Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital with injuries that police said were not considered to be life-threatening.

According to the Marion County Coroner’s Office, Gray died Feb. 21 from multiple gunshot wounds sustained on Feb. 12.

No officers were injured. At the time of the shooting, Speedway police said the officer who fired his weapon was on administrative leave. The department has not said if Harris was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting.

Personnel files show Harris served a three-day suspension without pay in January after an internal investigation determined he had viewed “inappropriate sites” on his laptop and viewed TV and movie sites on his phone and laptop while on duty. His file also includes 11 letters of appreciation for his work in the department. The department also provided its general orders regarding use of force and body cameras.

Attorney Chris Gaal has been assigned as special prosecutor in the case, according to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. Gaal is a former Monroe County prosecutor.

The prosecutor’s office also confirmed that Gray was facing 17 felony counts of arson. Gray was charged in December 2019 after Wayne Township fire investigators worked with other fire departments, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to arrest Gray.

Their investigation began on Sept. 17, 2019, when a person was seen lighting a fire on Ironton Street as firefighters put out a different fire on Lyons Avenue in the Mars Hill neighborhood. Investigators obtained video of a person matching the description of that person at eight fires over three months following the incident on Ironton. Those fires involved both vacant and occupied homes.

Video provided by the fire department appeared to show Gray pouring gasoline more than 500 feet down the middle of a street in September 2019 and lighting it on fire. According to police, he set the same house on fire twice on that street over the course of a month, the blaze so hot it burned through the floor and walls.

Police estimated Gray caused $100,000 in damage to homes. Investigators said no one was hurt in those fires but that Gray could have been linked to up to 20 fires.

Gray’s obituary said he’d been battling schizophrenia since his diagnosis in 2015. A viewing and celebration of life for Gray happened Saturday at Martindale Avenue Church in Indianapolis. Gray, a Gary native, was a 2010 graduate of the Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary. He is survived by a daughter, his mother, a sister, two brothers and additional relatives.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Speedway Police Department said all inquiries about the investigation were being directed to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, where another spokesman said it’s forwarding questions to the special prosecutor. Gaal told News 8 he cannot comment on the investigation.