Johnson Co. shootout video raises questions about Indiana's self-defense laws

Video shows shootout between neighbors
Posted: 7:09 PM, Jul 06, 2017
Updated: 2017-07-07 14:41:54Z

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. -- 59-year-old Jeffrey Weigle brandished a gun.

His neighbor, 49-year-old Dean Keller, pulled out his own gun and fired, hitting Weigle four times in the chest during an exchange of multiple gunshots.

Did Keller legally fire his weapon under Indiana’s self-defense law?

That’s the question being raised after a video of the shootout was released Wednesday, and the Johnson County prosecutor’s announced Keller would not face charges in the shooting.

Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said the video, which was taken on a hidden camera in Keller’s yard, was a key piece of evidence used to make his decision on the case.

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“We watched every bit of it back and forth,” said Cooper. “And pretty much uniformly between myself and all my deputy prosecutors and the investigators involved it looked like a clear case of self-defense on the part of Mr. Keller.”

Indiana law states that a person is not required to retreat before pulling the trigger in self-defense and shooting is justified if the shooter reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury.

The video shows Keller’s neighbor, Jeffrey Weigle addressing him at the gate with foul language before adjusting the gate and riding off on his lawnmower.

When Keller approaches the fence to see what Weigle did to it, Weigle backs up his lawnmower and flashes a gun at Keller. Keller then pulls out his own gun and fires at Weigle, hitting him four times in the chest.

“He reversed his course on the tractor, pulled out a gun and started waving it at Mr. Keller,” said Cooper.  “In Indiana, according to the law, anyone in Mr. Keller’s position would reasonably believe that he was potentially about to get seriously injured or shot. Therefore, that justified his use of deadly force.”

Because of the ongoing conflict and confrontations in that area, Keller had set up a camera that pointed at that piece of the gate.

His camera captured the entire shooting on video, which can be seen below.

*Warning: The below video is graphic in nature*

“Thank God we had that video because there has been a lot of animosity between those two men,” said Cooper. “Can you imagine what kind of different stories might have come out of that?”

Keller has been cleared of all criminal charges in the case, but Weigle may face charges for initially brandishing his weapon.

Cooper said that decision would be made “when and if” he recovers from his injuries. 

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