Officer cleared in fatal shooting of suspect in toddler’s murder

NOW: Officer cleared in fatal shooting of suspect in toddler’s murder

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The Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office will not be filing any charges against an Elkhart Police sergeant who shot and killed Lonnel Cephas Jr a short time after Cephas shot and killed a toddler, according to the prosecutor’s office.

On August 27, Elkhart Police responded to the 500 block of High Street around 10 a.m. for reports of a shooting.

Investigators said Cephas fired multiple rounds from a 9mm handgun at his 15-year-old estranged girlfriend and her mother. The bullets went through a wall of the home and struck Danton Munoz in the head.

Munoz was days short of his second birthday.

First responders arrived within three minutes and began lifesaving efforts on Munoz, which were ultimately unsuccessful.

Witnesses gave police a description of the suspect, who was later identified as Cephas.

Cephas was located was located walking northbound in an alley in the area of 8th Street and Cleveland Avenue.

Sergeant Mike Davis commanded Cephas to show his hands, but Cephas began tugging at his front pocket, reports said.

Sergeant Davis then saw Cephas with a gun and ordered him to drop the gun, reports said.

When Cephas brought the gun down and in the direction of Sergeant Davis, Davis fired his duty rifle at Cephas, reports said.

Other officers who arrived on scene located a 9mm handgun underneath Cephas’ body when they rolled him over, reports said.

The 9mm handgun was examined and determined to be the weapon that killed Munoz, investigators said.

The prosecutor’s office said that based on the evidence, the shooting of Cephas was justified in order to protect officers and others.

“There are no words sufficient to express the profound and senseless loss of this child, just days before his second birthday. The persistent unreasonable use of deadly weapons by people in our community continues to threaten the safety of everyone, as well as the rights of reasonable citizens,” said Prosecutor Vicki Becker.

Sgt. Davis was previously placed on paid administrative leave pending the Elkhart County Homicide Unit’s investigation. As the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office determined that the police action shooting was justified under Indiana law and did not constitute a criminal act, we anticipate that Sgt. Davis will return to full duty in the near future pending the remaining administrative process.

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