Statement by Prosecutor Terry Modesitt

Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt today said police use of deadly force in the May 4 shooting that left Officer Rob Pitts and a homicide suspect dead was justified. 

Modesitt announced the results of an Indiana State Police investigation and his review of the case during a news conference this morning.

"I have concluded the actions of Terre Haute Police Officers JT Pearce and Brian Bourbeau, in returning fire when fired upon by Christopher Wolfe, were consistent with exercising self-defense to prevent serious bodily injury or death or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony," Modesitt said.

"No criminal charges will be filed against these officers for their response to the initial shots fired by Christopher Wolfe."

Wolfe, 21, also died at the scene. An autopsy determined his manner of death as suicide with the cause being a single gunshot wound to the head.

Modesitt said an additional injury to Wolfe's head suggests he may have been grazed by a gunshot or injured by a bullet fragment during the gunfire.

A review of police reports, evidence collection reports, medical reports, photographs and witness statements determined Wolfe fired at least four shots during the incident.

Officer Pearce fired two shots when fired upon. Detective Bourbeau returned fire on Wolfe with two shots, Modesitt said.

"Indiana laws apply equally to everyone, including law enforcement officers," Modesitt said. This includes criminal laws, laws related to self defense, or the use of force related to an arrest. Unfortunately, police officers must sometimes respond to a situation with deadly force. This was one of those situations."

Modesitt said the investigation by the ISP shows the officers were justified in using deadly force to effect an arrest of a person posing a threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or a third person.

"Criminal charges against the officers are not appropriate," Modesitt said. "The investigation into the officer's actions has reached its conclusion."

Pitts was a 16-year veteran of the Terre Haute Police Department and previously an officer in Sullivan.

At the time of the May 4 shooting, Wolfe was being sought in the earlier shooting death of Robert “Paulie” Olson at Olson's home at 65 S. 18th St. in Terre Haute.

Police had located Wolfe south of Terre Haute and followed him to an apartment to make an arrest when the gunfire occurred.

Indiana State Police conducted more than 20 interviews in their investigation of the May 4 shootings, and submitted more than 350 pages of documents for review to the prosecutor's office.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With close to 29 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.