Questions still remain about a Joliet detective’s fatal shooting of a robbery suspect and the investigation of the incident by the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force.
In a letter released May 7, State’s Attorney James Glasgow concluded that detective Aaron Bandy’s fatal shooting of 38-year-old Bruce Carter on Feb. 6 was justified. Carter was suspected of robbing First Midwest Bank on West Jefferson Street earlier that day and Bandy went to his home with detective Brad McKeon as a follow-up to the robbery investigation.
Bandy told task force investigators that Carter sprang at him while holding a utility knife, according to Glasgow’s letter. Another witness at the scene, a housekeeper, said she saw Carter rush at Bandy and the two started to “scuffle.”
Glasgow said Bandy’s fatal shooting was justified because Carter failed to obey his commands and sprung toward him with a deadly weapon in an aggressive manner.
Joliet police released the letter on their Facebook page, along with video that appeared to show Carter robbing the bank by showing a teller a note that demanded money and grabbing cash from a drawer.
Glasgow’s letter and the video shed more light on what occurred at the bank and Carter’s South Des Plaines Street home about three months ago. Yet there still are questions about the shooting and the investigation.
Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner and Will County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Carole Cheney failed to respond to requests from The Herald-News to discuss the investigation and Glasgow’s letter. The FBI failed to return calls and messages.
Joliet city officials said in a news release Monday that they plan to hold a town hall meeting on the shooting from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at All Nations of God and Christ Church, 503 Water St.
Task force Chairman Ken Kroll answered a few questions about the letter but declined to answer more when asked if the housekeeper had seen Carter holding the utility knife before he reportedly rushed at Bandy.
“Honestly, I’m not going to answer any more questions,” Kroll said.
Glasgow’s letter said the housekeeper saw Carter “take something out of his front pocket” but doesn’t say if she saw him holding the knife police recovered from the home. A person whose name was redacted in the letter apparently heard another person ask Carter, “What are you doing with that knife?”
Bandy told investigators he saw Carter hold a “box cutter knife” in his hand before he rushed at him, according to the letter. Carter’s mother, Grace Vann, who was at the home, told investigators her son had no weapons. She also told The Herald-News she didn’t see her son attack Bandy.
Other questions The Herald-News has about Glasgow’s letter include:
• Why did Bandy and McKeon go to Carter’s home without backup?
• Why does Vann’s account differ from the housekeeper’s account of the incident?
• Did Vann confirm to investigators that she saw a physical struggle between Bandy and Carter?
• Why was the video of the bank robbery not released until May 7?
• Why was a March 27 Herald-News article with an interview from Vann included in the letter?
Carter’s family and friends have doubted he was at the bank to rob it. But after his longtime friend Melissa Boatman saw the video, she said she was “shocked” and “saddened” to see he seemed desperate to rob the bank. She said it was “extremely out of character.”
Attempts to reach Vann were unsuccessful.
Boatman said after she read Glasgow’s letter, she wondered if Bandy did not follow proper protocol by not waiting for other officers to arrive at Carter’s home.
“He seemed like he went in there to cowboy the situation on his own,” she said.
Bandy told McKeon to go to the back of Carter’s home after they arrived and McKeon requested another police unit for assistance when he headed to the rear of the home, according to the letter.
Boatman said she didn’t think the “situation was de-escalated properly.”
“I don’t think the use of deadly force was justified just knowing they have access to things like Tasers or additional units,” she said.
John Fullinwider, co-founder of Texas-based Mothers Against Police Brutality, a group Boatman has contacted about the shooting, reviewed Glasgow’s letter.
He said the justification of deadly force is routine among police and prosecutors nationwide.
“It’s no wonder Mr. Carter’s family and friends are skeptical,” Fullinwider said.
Besides Bandy, he said, there are two witnesses: Vann and the housekeeper, and “their stories differ.”
“Should the statement of Bandy, the suspect in this shooting, determine whose story is more accurate? When there are disputed facts in a homicide, as here, justice demands a trial,” Fullinwider said.