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Watch: Speedway police release body camera footage in shooting that killed De'Aire Gray

Posted at 11:07 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 12:34:50-04

SPEEDWAY -- A special prosecutor on Thursday cleared a veteran Speedway police officer in the February shooting that killed De'Aire Gray, a man who long suffered from mental illness.

Special Prosecutor Chris Gaal ruled that Officer Robby Harris was acting in self-defense when he fired the shots on Feb. 12 that led to Gray's death on Feb. 21. Gray was holding a BB gun when he was shot, Gaal said.

The Speedway Police Department on Thursday released police body camera footage of the incident to WRTV. The video contains strong language and graphic images.

Body camera footage: Speedway Police Department shooting of De'Aire Gray

In his report, Gaal found that Officer Robby Harris "had a reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to himself, and such belief was reasonable under the circumstances."

The black BB gun in Gray's hand closely resembled a firearm, Gaal said in the report.

John F. Kautzman, Harris's attorney, said evidence clearly showed that Harris's actions were "consistent with his training and the law."

Gray had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had not taken medication in years. His family was trying to get him help but Gray often refused to cooperate with treatment, his mother Tanya Atkins told WRTV.

Tanya Atkins
Tanya Atkins, mother of De'Aire Gray who was shot by Speedway police on Feb. 12 and died from his injuries.

Atkins on Thursday said she will continue to fight for better laws to protect people with mental illness and said she wants someone to say they are sorry.

"I wish that we lived in a world where we didn't have to have lawyers dictate our every move and decision," Atkins said in a text message. "A person does not understand how much a personal apology would do. It wouldn't bring my son back but it would help me to maybe have a little faith in the system."

READ MORE | The death of De'Aire Gray: How one man slipped through the cracks of the mental health system | De'Aire Gray's death highlights disparities in mental health treatment, experts say

The shooting

Harris and other officers were called to the 5900 block of West 25th Street about 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 to investigate reports of a man living in a car and defecating in a parking lot.

The officers were talking to a neighbor when Gray went into the car.

Officers tried to talk to Gray, but a preliminary probable cause affidavit said he told them “he didn’t like how they were walking up on him.”

Gray ran; police chased him. Gray jumped a small fence and Gaal said an officer spotted a GPS bracelet on Gray's ankle.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Family of man killed by Speedway police wants body camera footage released

Gray was on electronic monitoring at the time in connection with 17 felony charges in a series of arson fires. He had been found mentally incompetent to stand trial in that case, records show, and had been assigned to a new community-based competency restoration treatment program.

Gaal's report said Gray pulled a black BB gun from a bag shortly before Harris shot him. Officers later recovered the BB gun on the ground near Gray, Gaal said. Tests found traces of Gray's DNA on the BB gun.

The BB gun was also visible in Gray's hand on body camera and security camera footage, Gaal said in his report.

Gray died at Eskenazi Hospital on Feb. 21 of “multiple gunshot wounds,” according to the Marion County coroner’s office.

This is the full statement from Gray's mother, Tanya Atkins:

"I wish that we lived in a world where we didn't have to have lawyers dictate our every move and decision. A person does not understand how much a personal apology would do. It wouldn't bring my son back but it would help me to maybe have a little faith in the system. But how can you believe in God and don't feel an apology is the Godly thing to do? But because of MY relationship with God I never wished on the officer that shot my son, anything that I prayed didn't happen to my son in his battle with the system. Forgiveness has to be asked for. And the Lord has forgiven my son for his sins and he is in a better place with God, his dad and his sister DeAirah but I will continue my fight for better laws dealing with the mentally ill."

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at victor.ryckaert@wrtv.com or on Twitter: @vicryc.