PORTAGE — The widow of a slain 39-year-old Portage man has filed a civil suit against a Portage officer, alleging he used excessive force in shooting Williams Spates during an April 22 traffic stop.
The suit alleges Portage officer Grant Crizer used excessive force by first using his Taser on Spates — who "collapsed in the driver's seat" — and then unholstering his firearm to shoot and kill Spates.
The suit was filed Tuesday by his widow, Marina Spates.
Police Chief Troy Williams said Crizer was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel following an independent investigation by the Porter County Sheriff's Department and Indiana State Police.
The report concluded Crizer acted appropriately and in self-defense.
"We fully support our officer," Williams said Tuesday night. "No officer wants to find themselves in that situation but ultimately those things do occur from time to time."
The suit alleges the officer knew Spates was unarmed and "did not pose an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to Crizer," and "at no time ... did Spates cause his vehicle to move in the direction of Crizer."
Williams said, however, the suspect was armed with "a ... vehicle" and rammed his own vehicle into the officer's fully-marked squad car at one point.
Crizer shot Spates in the driveway of a home on Royal Avenue, according to police.
Witnesses initially reported hearing the officer yelling commands to the driver, and an engine revving, followed by six to seven shots, according to police.
Spates had been released from jail on bond just hours before the shooting. He had been arrested April 19 and accused of battering Marina Spates and two children.
The suit seeks $75,000 in damages.