An Indianapolis firefighter who shot his neighbor in self-defense has been cleared of all charges, Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said Wednesday.
“The decision to not file charges on Keller was a simple application of Indiana law and should not be looked upon as condoning the behavior of either party,” Cooper said.
The conflict occurred on June 27 and was captured by a security camera. Cooper said the firefighter’s neighbor, Jeffrey S. Weigle, 59, was clearly the aggressor.
The IndyStar reported that the two men, Weigle and an Indianapolis firefighter named Dean Keller, 49, had clashed over a dozen times since 2009 over a range of things, including the location of a fence, Keller’s dogs and Weigle’s motorcycle.
One incident in 2011 resulted in the arrest of both men on battery charges. During the fight, Keller was stabbed in the arm and Weigle suffered cuts, scratches and bite wounds, according to a police report.
The video of the June 27 incident, taken by a security camera on Keller’s property, shows Weigle on a riding lawn mower as the men yell back and forth across a chain link fence.
Weigle insults Keller and Keller’s wife, Lisa, and Keller returns an insult.
Weigle backs the mower up, reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handgun. He waves it at Keller but does not pull the trigger. Keller draws a handgun of his own and fires it at Weigle, using a thick fencepost as cover.
Keller hit Weigle four times in the chest, and as of July 6, Weigle remained in critical condition at IU Health Methodist Hospital, the IndyStar reports.
“Given the aggression shown by Weigle,” Cooper said, “it was reasonable for Keller to believe deadly force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to himself (and) his wife.”
Weigle had stolen the handgun from his roommate, Nancy Phillips, who told investigators that Weigle took the gun from under her pillow before he went out to mow.
“Whether Jeffrey Weigle shall be charged with a crime will be determined if and when he recovers,” Cooper said.
“I was sick that day and didn’t know he had my gun,” Phillips told the New York Daily News.
According to Phillips, the conflict between the two neighbors began when Weigle suffered any injury at work that resulted in the loss of function in one of his arms.
“He had a prosthetic put in his left arm and therefore he couldn’t use it,” Phillips said. “Dean came over when Jeff still had it in a sling and said, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ and Jeff told him and ever since Dean has been a pain in the hiney,” Phillips said.
Keller has yet to speak with the media.