CROWN POINT — A 23-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for two home invasions, including one where a retired Gary police captain was shot.
Kevon Dixon, of Gary, pleaded guilty in July to aggravated battery, a level 3 felony, in connection with Capt. Charles Austin's shooting and burglary as a level 5 felony in a separate case.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Jamise Perkins sentenced Dixon to nine years for shooting Austin and three years for the burglary.
Perkins rejected defense attorney Cipriano Rodriguez's request to order the sentences be served concurrently, instead ordering they be served consecutively.
Austin, 69, said he wanted to share the story of his life and how he nearly died.
He was born in Gary and first earned money at the age of 6 by sweeping up in a barbershop, he said. He worked through high school and didn't initially plan to become a police officer.
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His cousin encouraged him to take the Gary Police Department test, and he received the highest score in his group, he said. He joined the department in 1977.
Austin trained more than 500 police officers, and was the first black law enforcement instructor at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, he said.
In the twilight of his career, he served as the evening watch commander. After he retired in March 2016, he felt lost, he said.
On Jan. 21, 2017, he ate out at Longhorn Steakhouse and fell asleep in his home in the city's Glen Park section. He awoke to banging at his back door, he said.
A man entered his home, he yelled, "Hey!" and the man shot him. He fell against a wall and shot back, but his gun misfired.
The man who shot Austin was Dixon, court records show.
Austin called dispatchers for help, and he could hear the sirens as police arrived. He saw 15 cars on his block as he attempted to walk out of his house wounded, he said. The officers told him, 'You're one of us," he said.
He was taken to Methodist Northlake Hospital Campus, then transferred to Loyola University Medical Center. He went through multiple surgeries, he said.
"It was excruciating pain," he said.
Austin spent nearly two months in medical facilities, learning to walk again, he said.
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Jacob Brandewie asked Perkins for a maximum sentence under his plea, in part because of Dixon's criminal history. In addition, Dixon was involved in multiple fights and found to be in possession of synthetic marijuana while being held in the Lake County Jail, he said.
Dixon's first contact with police occurred at age 12, Perkins said. He failed probation as a juvenile, and therapy and other interventions didn't work, she said.
As an adult, he had three misdemeanor convictions before age 21.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss two other felony cases, including an escape charge and an armed robbery case.
The homicide of Dixon's co-defendant, Cameron Briscoe, in early 2019 created evidentiary issues for the state in the case.
Rodriguez said Dixon looked up to Briscoe and followed his lead, but Perkins said the evidence showed Dixon was ringleader. Briscoe had agreed to cooperate with investigators before his homicide, she said.
In the burglary case, Dixon entered a woman's home while she and her two children — age 12 and 17 — were inside, Perkins said.
"Capt. Austin was in his own home, his sanctuary, where he should feel safe, when he was ambushed by the defendant and his friends," she said.
Perkins said Dixon didn't deserve leniency because he has a 4-year-old daughter, because there were no records showing Dixon has established paternity or provided for the child in any way.
In addition to Briscoe, Fo'Tre White was charged in Austin's shooting. White has pleaded not guilty and is next scheduled to appear in court in February.