A grand jury cleared Tallahassee Police Officer Doug Kutchera of any wrongdoing after an hour of deliberations Wednesday night. The jury of 20 agreed with the evidence that it reasonably appeared to the officer that deadly force was necessary. Officer Kutchera shot and killed 28 year old Diaquiri Ball on July 14th.
Willie Meggs, State Attorney said of the jury's finding, "In other words, the officer worked in accordance with his training and was justified with what he did." Now that Officer Kutchera has been cleared of breaking the law, more information about what happened that night in July has been released. A No True Bill Presentment reveals Ball told his girlfriend that night, that he had seen "something he shouldn't have" and "was tired of it all". He then continued to cry and pray and after some time, Mr. Ball got into the drivers seat of a car, told her "I hope we make it" and floored the gas pedal. Their car hit an oncoming vehicle on Old Bainbridge Road and that is when officers were called to the scene. The presentment goes on to say Ball was seen by witnesses hitting and cutting himself. Officer Kutchera arrived on scene and as he tried to render aid to Ball, people shouted "he has knife", "he is cutting himself" and "he's acting crazy". The report says Kutchera told Ball to "drop it" and he did not respond. That is when, off-duty officer Cleveland Allen, Jr., the brother of Ball's girlfriend, told Kutchera to "tase him".
He told Officer Allen he did not have his taser and called for an officer with a taser. Officer Allen then ran towards Springwood Apartments and this is when the Presentment says Ball went after Allen with an object in his hand, making downward slashing motions. Kutchera apparently told Ball several times to "drop the knife or I'll shoot". Mr. Ball then directed his attention to Officer Kutchera and charged, raising the object in his hand. The presentment says this is when Kutchera pulled the trigger, shooting three times. Ball was hit in the leg, shoulder and head. Autopsy results revealed Ball had a "high level of cocaine as well as cannabis and alcohol in his system at the time of his death".
Officer John Newland, Tallahassee Police Department says, "We're pleased they came back with that verdict, but again, it's still a tragedy. It's still a loss of a human life here and our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Ball's family." Attempts to reach Ball's family for comment were unsuccessful.
Officer Newland says Kutchera will remain on administrative desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation. The investigation will determine whether Officer Kutchera followed TPD's policy and procedure. Newland expects to get a report back in about a month.
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