INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Under new guidelines, police officers across Marion County have 48 hours to file a report once they have confiscated firearms from anyone considered to be a danger to themselves or others.
Once the report is filed, one of two Marion County judges will decide whether to hold a hearing.
The decision comes after the FedEx shooting April 15, in which eight people were fatally shot before the shooter, Brandon Hole, 19, shot himself at the delivery services facility near Indianapolis International Airport.
In the FedEx shooting, Hole randomly fired two rifles he’d bought after his mother in March 2020 had warned police her son would try to commit “suicide by cop.” After his mother’s warning, Hole had voluntarily surrendered a shotgun he owned. Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears has been criticized for not filling the March 2020 case under the state’s red flag law.
Indiana’s red flag law allows police to confiscate guns from a person deemed dangerous to themselves or others. Prosecutors can then ask a court to ban that person from buying any other firearms, though the law does not mandate prosecutors to seek a red flag court hearing.
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Indiana University law professor Jody Madeira says the new guidelines issued by Marion Superior Court Judge Amy Jones are unusual but not unexpected. “And I think that since the FedEx shooting, this discretion has been questioned. You know, Brandon Hole there had no record of violence, and so the prosecutor said, ‘Well, they’ve agreed to give up their firearm, if we filed for red flag, then we might actually trigger the set of due-process protections that will require us to give the firearm back.”
At the time of the FedEx shooting, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department had presented 45 red flag cases to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office; eight of those cases were presented to a judge.
According to the IU law professor, Indiana’s red flag law does not require police to take a case to the prosecutor.
Madiera said, “That could vary (from) county to county because I do not think that the red flag law has any specific procedures other than law enforcement shall go to a court, you know, and it doesn’t say law enforcement have to go to the prosecutors to go the courts.”
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office said the judge’s new guidelines do not cut the prosecutor’s office completely out of red flag cases. They will move staff when needed to review red flag cases. The prosecutor’s office also said that conversations to make these changes started before the FedEx shooting.
“Marion Superior Court Judge Amy Jones convened a meeting between the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and representatives of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to discuss a process change in the way petitions for the warrantless seizure of firearms from individuals believed to be dangerous under I.C. 35-47-14-3 are filed. Under the current process, officers who seize a firearm without a warrant from an individual the officer believes to be dangerous, submit an affidavit to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office for review and filing with the court. To streamline the process, the Court has implemented the following administrative change that will allow law enforcement the ability to file paperwork directly with the court to determine if probable cause existed to remove the firearm without a warrant. Both processes are permissible under the law; however, the streamlined approach should help all parties involved. The Court continues to collaborate with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and law enforcement to finalize the administrative and logistical changes. Once those details have been finalized between all affected agencies and stakeholders, the final plan will be reduced to writing and shared with the public.”Pauline Beeson