SOUTH BEND - The investigation into the fatal South Bend police shooting of Dante Kittrell is nearing a conclusion and will likely be turned over to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office next week, officials say.
Kittrell was shot and killed by South Bend police officers on July 29 after a 40-minute standoff in a field near Coquillard Elementary School. Bystanders and family who witnessed the shooting said Kittrell, 51, suffered from mental health issues and appeared to be having a mental health crisis during the incident.
Police have said Kittrell had a gun and threatened to shoot multiple times before pointing the weapon at officers and that officers on the scene tried to de-escalate the situation.
The St. Joseph County and Mishawaka police departments are handling the investigation and expect to complete their findings sometime next week, according to a Friday release from the prosecutor's office. Officials said investigators are currently waiting for the results of ballistics testing.
Normally, such testing would be conducted at the South Bend Police Department's crime lab, but because South Bend police are under investigation, ballistics testing is being done by Gary Lind at Firearms Forensics "to ensure the integrity of the investigation."
Once the testing is complete, the case will be forwarded to St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter's office. Cotter has not indicated that he will request a special prosecutor to review the investigation's findings and an office spokesman did not answer questions on that topic.
"After that review, the prosecutor's office will discuss the findings with Mr. Kittrell's family and the South Bend PoliceDepartment before releasing any further information," the release says.
In addition to the ballistic evidence, St. Joseph County police have said they obtained and are reviewing all South Bend police body cameras and in-car videos from the incident.
According to Indiana law, a person (including law enforcement) is justified in using deadly force "if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony."
'They took him from me':South Bend community mourns death of Dante Kittrell
While the outside investigation into potential criminal charges wraps up, South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski on Monday said the department has opened an internal investigation into Kittrell's death. The department will wait until the outside investigation is completed until moving forward with its own determinations.
Kittrell's killing has sparked outcry over the police department's response to the incident and multiple community groups have pushed for the implementation of mobile crisis teams, led by mental health clinicians, to respond to mental health emergencies instead of law enforcement.
Email Marek Mazurek at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @marek_mazurek
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Officials say Dante Kittrell investigation nearing completion