No charges for GPD officers in suspect’s death

David J. Donelli

By Kristy Deer | Daily Reporter

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GREENFIELD — No criminal charges will be filed in the death of a suspect who died when he hit his head on the ground after being shot with a Taser by officers from the Greenfield Police Department.

The Indiana State Police wrapped up their investigation late last week into the death of David J. Donelli, 42, Indianapolis. Donelli was being pursued on foot by Greenfield police officers on Dec. 15 as part of an investigation into a stolen car. As the three officers chased Donelli across the parking lot at Home Depot, 2055 Barrett Drive, one of them hit Donelli with a charge from a stun gun. Donelli struck his head on the pavement when he fell.

ISP turned its findings over to Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton, who determined no charges were warranted.

“In the case the evidence was remarkably clear,” Eaton said. “There were cameras inside the store and the officers’ body cam footage involved and it made everything very clear that there was not a crime.”

The incident began when the three GPD officers — Jill Jenkins, Andrew Pfaff and Lt. Matthew Holland — located a stolen vehicle in the Home Depot parking lot. The officers soon learned the suspect was inside the store, and they went to look for him. Shortly after that, the suspect fled on foot into the parking lot.

While chasing the suspect, one officer shot Donelli with a Taser in an attempt to subdue him, and the suspect fell. Video from the officers’ body cameras showed they rendered first aid as soon as they reached him, the ISP investigation showed. Donelli was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Chief Jeff Rasche asked the state police to investigate the incident. GPD is still conducting its own investigation, which should be concluded by the end of the week.

“The first thing was to make sure there were no criminal acts, and now we’re just making sure they didn’t violate any department policies or regulations,” Rasche said. “This is part of the transparency we want to provide to the community.”

All three officers were placed on leave after the incident. Holland has returned to work. Jenkins and Pfaff are expected to be back as soon as the internal report wraps up in the next few days.

Online court records indicate that warrants had recently been issued for Donelli in Marion County for theft, driving while suspended and drug charges, including possession of methamphetamine. He also had a pending case in Boone County, where he was accused of possession of meth and other charges. Records from the Indiana Department of Correction indicate Donelli finished a year-long sentence in May 2020 for being a habitual traffic offender.

In 2017, the Daily Journal in Franklin reported Donelli was arrested on multiple charges after leading police on a car chase that reached speeds up to 100 mph.

The GPD’s use-of-force guidelines for “conducted electrical weapons” like Tasers states personnel may use them “when they are required to use physical force for protection from assault or take a person into custody.” The guidelines add the weapons “should be used before ‘hands on’ techniques or the use of impact weapons (batons, clubs) when possible.” Conducted electrical weapons “shall not be intentionally aimed at a person’s head, neck or groin,” the guidelines continue.

Rasche noted the officers’ training kicked in during the encounter and that they handled themselves appropriately.

“This has been tragic for everyone involved, including the family who lost someone and for us too,” Rasche said.