Confidence vote highlights rift between police and justice system in Marion County

INDIANAPOLIS — The tragic death of Elwood officer Noah Shahnavaz has sparked a confrontation with police officers on one side and the Marion County justice system on the other.

A growing rift pitting the Indianapolis chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police against elected Marion County judges and prosecutors comes to a head this week as officers who are part of the state’s largest police union hold a vote of confidence on the very system to which they are sworn. defend.

“Our members came together, immediately after the death of Noah Shahnavaz, where we saw a connection as far back as Elwood here with our hometown, our hometown, where our own system contributed to this,” Rick said. Snyder, president of the Indianapolis Chapter of FOP.

“You have officers who are ashamed of what happened here. They are ashamed of the very system they are supposed to represent.”

Vic Ryckaert/WRTV

Indianapolis FOP President Rick Snyder

The justice system, where judges and prosecutors must adhere to professional rules that prevent them from publicly commenting on criminal cases, is fighting back with help from the Indianapolis Bar Association, which called Snyder’s remarks “inaccurate,” “dangerous” and “reckless”. .”

“Mr. Snyder’s attempt to draw a line between Constable Shahnavaz’s tragic death and the defendant’s conviction in Marion County is not only inaccurate, it is dangerous,” IndyBar said in a rebuttal. of three pages published on August 12.

“It would lead an uninformed person to conclude that the Court in this case somehow showed leniency that resulted in the death of a law enforcement officer. Our community does not benefit such reckless rhetoric.”

This is a 2006 arrest involving Carl Roy Webb Boards II, 42, the man accused of killing Shahnavaz on July 31.

Boards, 26 at the time, was charged with attempted murder and other crimes after shooting officers during a police pursuit. In 2007, a jury found Boards not guilty of attempted murder, but convicted him of the lesser charge of criminal recklessness as well as other crimes. The most serious was a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm as a violent criminal.

Counsel faced a maximum sentence of 33.5 years in the case. Marion Superior Court Judge Mark Stoner sentenced Boards to 25 years in prison, records show.

Under Indiana law at the time, defendants could cut their sentences in half if they behaved well in prison. Current law allows prisoners to earn 25% credit for good behavior.

Snyder criticized the judge for not handing down a maximum sentence. He criticized the entire justice system for failing to find a way to keep a dangerous person in prison for longer than the 12-plus years that counsel ultimately served in the case.

The issues, Snyder said, go beyond one judge and one case. Snyder pointed to other recent cases where defendants were released from prison only to commit further acts of violence against Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers.

  • Mylik Hill was released from jail in January on $500 bail after a misspelling of his first name failed to show prison officials that he was on probation. In February, prosecutors said Hill shot officer Thomas Mangan in the neck. Mangan is still recovering and it is unclear if he will speak, breathe or swallow normally again. Prosecutors charged Hill with attempted murder and other crimes.
  • Deonta Williams was under GPS surveillance as he awaited trial for burglary when prosecutors say he made a fake 911 call to lure two IMPD officers into an ambush before stabbing them both . One officer suffered a lacerated jugular vein; the other suffered a chest injury. Williams was charged with attempted murder and other crimes.

“There’s more than enough beyond that (Shahnavaz’s death) to hold a vote of confidence in the system,” Snyder said. “It was just the last straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Carnation by Noah Shahnavaz

PhotoWRTV/Kaitlyn Kendall

White carnations with a red dot are displayed next to a photo of deceased Elwood Police Officer Noah Shahnavaz.

Snyder said officers represented by the FOP ordered the leadership to hold the vote of confidence. He said the police want the justice system to keep criminals behind bars. The vote totals, Snyder said, are expected to be released next week.

“Our criminal justice system has been hijacked by prosecutors and (district attorneys) choosing which laws they will enforce and which they won’t,” Snyder said.

Marion County District Attorney Ryan Mears announced in 2019 that his office would no longer bring criminal charges against people caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana. In June, Mears announced he would not file criminal charges against doctors or women accused of violating the state’s new abortion ban.

Mears spokesman Michael Leffler declined to comment, saying the office remains focused on its work.

Jim Voyles, the Indianapolis Bar committee member who drafted the response to Snyder’s comments, said Stoner followed the law and did everything he was supposed to do when he convicted Boards in 2007.

“There is an implication in Snyder’s remarks that if not for (Judge) Stoner, this officer would be alive,” Voyles said. “That’s just not true.”

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WRTV

James H. Voyles

Voyles said Snyder unfairly attacks judges and prosecutors for failings in the justice system that go far beyond the control of a single individual.

“You can’t just attack judges and you can’t just attack prosecutors,” Voyles said. “It should be a dialogue. If you have a problem with Judge Stoner, sit down and talk to him… Don’t make a public statement that (the judge) isn’t able to respond to.”

Stoner, the judge who convicted Boards after that 2007 trial, also declined to answer questions about the case, citing rules of professional conduct that prohibit judges from discussing cases publicly.

WRTV obtained a transcript of the court’s September 6, 2007 sentencing hearing. During that hearing, Stoner told Boards that the jury verdict exonerating him of attempted murder was “pretty rare.”

“There aren’t too many people who are capable of firing seven shots at a police officer, hitting a car three times, and then walking away with a conviction for criminal recklessness,” Stoner said. “Quite rare.”

Stoner, during the 2007 hearing, expressed concerns about the commissions’ prior convictions for crimes involving drugs, firearms, and violence. The judge also noted that Boards had a habit of voluntarily not taking prescription drugs to treat his mental illness.

“When you mix those things up, the illegal drugs, your mental illness and the guns,” Stoner told Boards in 2007. “Honestly, you’re lucky you haven’t killed anyone so far.”

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Pool camera

Captain Bryan Wolfe of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office sings “Amazing Grace, The Policeman’s Tribute” at the funeral of Officer Noah Shahnavaz.

In words that now seem to foreshadow what happened to Officer Shahnavaz in 2022, the judge in 2007 expressed concern and support for the police officer who survived unscathed only because Boards’ shots hit the police car instead of man.

“I can’t imagine the danger you are putting our police in,” Stoner said. “They risk their lives every day to protect you, your family, friends and loved ones as well. … I’m sure (the officer) has family and friends who depend on him. You almost ruined all their lives by your activity here.”

More: Everything we know about deceased officer Noah Shahnavaz | What we know about the man accused of killing Elwood officer Noah Shahnavaz | Elwood police officer shot, killed; suspect in custody | Suspect in Elwood police officer’s death has multiple prior criminal convictions, records show | Suspect in Elwood cop shooting fired 36 rounds; officer never drew gun, court doctor says

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