Munster IN June 17 2020
A retired Lake County, Indiana Sheriff’s officer was killed when a colleague opened fire during a fight with a combative psychiatric patient,
Police responded to the shooting at the Munster Community Hospital early Tuesday morning.
According to Munster police, there was a “physical disturbance” between patient and a staff member in the emergency area of the hospital.
Police then responded to a call of shots fired around 1:15 a.m.
The Lake County Prosecutor’s office said it happened at 1 a.m. Tuesday when retired sheriff’s police officers Ryan Askew and Benny Freeman were working security at Community Hospital.
A patient at the hospital – Jamal Williams, 22 – had become combative with nurses and hospital staff, who issued a code yellow to call for Askew and Freeman.
When Williams saw security arrive at his hospital room, the patient grabbed the nurse attending to him with one hand and began hitting her with the other, the Prosecutor’s office said.
Prosecutors said at that time, other nurses began to pull the nurse who was under attack away from Williams while security tried to subdue him.
But Williams overpowered the security team and placed Askew in a chokehold, authorities said. He lifted Askew up in the chokehold and began hitting him with his right hand, authorities said.
Nurses and staff reported Askew was going in and out of consciousness, prosecutors said. At that point, Freeman unholstered his gun and fired twice – striking Williams in the face and Askew in the arm, prosecutors said.
Hospital staff attended to Askew, but the bullet had traveled into his chest and he died, prosecutors said.
Initially, reports had indicated that Williams had disarmed one of the officers and shot Askew, but later reports said it was Freeman who fired the shots.
He died so someone else could live,” said Askew’s daughter, Dajanay. “And that is the type of officer that I personally want upon duty.”
Dajanay Askew says her father, known as Kurt to friend, jumped in to save a neighbor’s son during recent flooding in Northwest Indiana. He will not be with her when she receives her master’s degree in December, but he was there for everything else.
“He always put his family first and he put me first,” Dajanay said. “He provided me with an awesome life.”
“I have only one parent left now, but my dad put his life at risk to save someone else. And he has character.”
The character of Askew cemented in how he carried himself in life and sacrificed himself in death.
As for the life of the patient who set this tragedy in motion, his family tells CBS 2 he was a proud senior on the Western Michigan University football team. Williams was listed on the Broncos roster as a 6-3, 290-pound defensive tackle who earned a varsity letter last season, playing in nine games. He went to Thornton Fractional North High School.
Williams’ family is wondering whether the psychiatric issues that put him in the hospital were football related. They hope for clarity on that question.