Local officers cleared

Whitley County prosecutor D.J. Sigler has cleared Huntington police officers for the officer-involved shooting that took place on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, after a disturbance took place on Schultz Drive.

At approximately 3:30 a.m. that day, officers responded to a disturbance call in the 100 block of Schultz Drive on the southwest side of Huntington.

The suspect, who would later be identified as 36-year-old Matthew T. Melzoni, of Wabash, was said to have been operating a backhoe, destroying property around the neighborhood. This property included sections of Horace Mann Elementary and Riverview Middle School. A brief security footage section showed Melzoni operating the backhoe on the property. It also showed “officers trying to get him out and down,” Sigler said.

Shots were fired by officers, resulting in the death of Malzoni and serious injury of an officer. The officer was transported by ambulance to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.

Malzoni was unarmed during the incident. According to the Indiana State Police Department investigation, “the officers felt the suspect’s conduct with the backhoe rendered him an imminent danger to both police officers and civilians.”

According to Sigler’s findings, “the officers were absolutely justified” in their use of force.

Sigler came to his decision after reviewing the investigation findings by the Indiana State Police department.

“Any time an officer involved shooting occurs, [we] make determinations based off of the facts . . . is life and limb of the officer or life and limb of the community being threatened?” Sigler said.

The HPD officers involved have not been named.