INDIANAPOLIS — When the man accused of killing Southport Police Department Lt. Aaron Allan goes to trial on Feb. 7, James Allan wants people to know that his son was killed as he tried to help someone.
"He wasn't looking for bad guys. He was trying to better his community," Allan said, speaking to WRTV Tuesday outside of a Marion Superior Courtroom. "He was the epitome of a public servant."
Jason Dane Brown could face life in prison without parole if he's found guilty of murder in Allan's death in 2017. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.
"Aaron is who this should be about. The whole bloody thing," James Allan said.
Lt. Allan is the first Southport officer to be killed in the line of duty. He joined the mostly volunteer police force in 2011 and became its first full-time paid officer just months before his death.
He is survived by a wife and young son.
Brown, then a tattoo artist at a south-side parlor, crashed and flipped a 2004 BMW four-door car in the 6600 block of South Madison Avenue in Homecroft about 2:40 p.m. on July 27, 2017, according to court records.
The car, with a license plate that read "INKMAN," was upside-down when officers arrived. Brown was suspended in the driver's seat, hanging by the seat belt.
A passenger crawled out of the vehicle. That man was talking to an officer outside the car when Allan crawled through the passenger-side window.
Brown, prosecutors say, pulled a gun and fired more than a dozen shots. Allan's body had 11 bullet wounds, an autopsy found.
Two other officers returned fire; their bullets struck Brown in the right cheek, right clavicle and left arm, records said.
When they searched the car later, police found a 9-mm handgun with an empty 20-round magazine, shell casings and a quart-sized plastic bag filled with 13 smaller bags of suspected marijuana, according to court records.
'Hero' nurse testifies
Michele Strack, a nurse who witnessed the crash on her drive home and stopped to help, took the witness stand Tuesday in a preview of next week's trial. She told the court that the gunshots sounded like "firecrackers."
"Pop. Pop-pop," Strack said. She testified Tuesday because she is leaving the country and won't be available next week.
Strack testified that another nurse, a man with a name tag that read Antonio, was also trying to help the driver when the shots sounded. That nurse, she said "grabbed my scrub top and said 'Run!'"
"Who was shooting?" she asked Antonio after they dove for cover.
"Everyone was shooting," he answered.
When the bullets stopped, Strack testified that she saw a wounded officer face up on the grass, not far from the overturned car.
She saw one of the other officers touch the radio microphone on his uniform and say: "Allan's down."
Strack and Antonio raced to Allan and conducted CPR while they waited for the ambulance. Strack saw wounds in Allan's body and did not feel a pulse.
Medics arrived and took over, Strack said. She went back to the overturned car where the wounded driver was in handcuffs. She wanted to help him too, she testified, but medics waved her off.
Brown was hospitalized and later recovered.
"You were a hero on that day," defense attorney David A Shircliff said in court, between his questions to Strack.
No death penalty
Brown had been facing a possible death penalty, but Prosecutor Ryan Mears dropped the capital charges in December.
In exchange, Brown agreed to waive his right to a jury trial and let Judge Mark Stoner decide his fate, according to documents filed Dec. 3.
James Allan declined to talk about the death penalty or other specifics on Tuesday, but he did address the issue in court shortly before the death penalty charges were dismissed.
"The whole family feels that we've been blindsided by the state's change in this matter," James Allan testified on Dec. 3.
Judge Stoner granted the motion, noting on the bench that the "lawyers are in a much better position to know what the evidence is in their case."
James Allan, in his testimony, said his family does not support the decision to dismiss the death penalty.
"I find this to be a travesty," Allan said in court. "My son was not just a police officer doing his job but a good Samaritan who came to the aid (and) lost his life."
RELATED | In her words: Wife of Lt. Allan remembers her husband | Hours before he was killed, Lt. Aaron Allan walked his son to his first day of kindergarten | Remembering Southport police Lt. Aaron Allan: A father, a husband & first to rush to those in need | Prosecutor to seek death penalty against Jason Brown, man accused of killing Lt. Aaron Allan | Prosecutors drop death penalty against man accused of killing Southport police officer | 'It's expensive:' This is how much a death penalty case costs in Indiana
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at email@example.com or on Twitter: @vicryc.