Questions follow self-defense claim in Broad Ripple shootings

Sam Wade
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Four days after a melee in Broad Ripple, the admitted gunman and four victims are waiting to know if there will be any charges filed.

Were the shootings self-defense or criminal acts? The answer is in Indiana law, and a single word that's open to a jury's interpretation.

Early Friday morning near 62nd St. and College Ave., Sam Wade says he was having a smoke around closing time, outside the club he manages.

"I heard someone go 'oh!'" he said.

Gunshots rang out. Wade was hit three times - in the upper thigh, above the knee and in his foot.

"I don't know if I will ever have full function of my leg back," he said.

Three other men were shot. According to the police report, Tristan Crayton flagged down an officer and admitted shooting them. Crayton claimed self-defense, insisting the three attacked his friend and were trying to attack him.

Wade doesn't believe it.

"People were already running and he was still firing shots. Like I said, the guy got shot in the back. People were running from this. That's not self-defense," he said.

Indiana law is clear. In a home or on the street, during a confrontation, you are under no obligation to retreat. You can stand your ground. Whatever you do next is up for legal interpretation.

A person is justified using reasonable force to protect himself or someone else if he reasonably believes it will protect them from harm.

"The 'reasonable' word crops up in our law numbers of times," said attorney Fran Watson.

The jury decides what is reasonable. "That's it. It's a jury question," Watson replied.

Waston is a criminal defense attorney and IU School of Law professor.

"To be able to use deadly force, to use a gun and shoot someone, you have to believe that there is at least a fear of serious bodily injury," she said.

Crayton is in jail. Friends are on the internet where they've already raised more than $3,000 for his legal defense. Meanwhile, prosecutors are sorting through the evidence and considering possible criminal charges.

A decision is expected late Tuesday or Wednesday.