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Officer named in deadly shooting

Jamie DuffyMay 24, 2019

As Fort Wayne police released the name of the officer who fired his gun during a police chase that ended in a man’s death, the victim’s family is asking for answers and justice.

Willie Kelly of Fort Wayne said that as of Thursday afternoon, the Fort Wayne Police Department had not contacted his family regarding the death of his son Shaquille I. Kelly, 26, who was killed about 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Nor did they call to tell the family that Officer Christopher Hawthorne was the one who fired his gun during the incident. Police have not determined whether Hawthorne’s bullet killed Kelly.

The shooting death is still under investigation, police said.

During a police chase, Kelly drove his car onto a yard and through the front of a renovated but vacant home at Oliver and Grier streets, according to police.

Kelly died of a gunshot wound to the chest, and the Allen County coroner ruled Kelly’s death a homicide.

The family learned from another source that Hawthorne was the officer who shot and killed a 62-year-old man Oct. 8, 2016, at the Hallmark Inn.

The man was threatening people with a knife and ignored several orders from police to drop the knife, police said at the time.

The Journal Gazette also learned that Hawthorne was one of four officers named in a federal lawsuit dating to a May 2017 incident.

The woman named in the lawsuit said that Hawthorne, Officer Julie McConnell and Detectives Robert Hollo and George Nicklow grabbed her, threw her over a car, handcuffed and later cavity-searched her, violating her constitutional rights.

The lawsuit is still in the court system.

Hawthorne was commissioned as an officer four years ago. He was given a letter of reprimand for a vehicle accident in 2016 and suspensions for vehicle accidents in 2017 and 2019.

In 2016, he was given a meritorious service citation and letter of commendation. 

Willie Kelly said he, his family and friends do not believe the true story has been told.

“Our current focus is to get a son buried right now,” he said, “and then deal with the conflicting information about the details of his death.”

The family believes Shaquille Kelly was visiting a cousin in the neighborhood when the incident occurred.

Police reported they heard gunfire around Reed and Baxter streets and caught up with Kelly as he drove his car and refused to pull over for a traffic stop.

On Wednesday evening, a witness said he saw police picking up numerous shell casings on Oliver Street at the intersection with Grier Street.

The younger Kelly was a forklift operator who left a raucous life behind after the birth of the first of his four children eight years ago, his family said.

The mother of his children, Melina Dominquez, said he worked hard to support his family. 

“We have four beautiful kids who are devastated,” Dominquez said.

The family, congregating at a home on the south side of the city, described Kelly as creative, artistic and a big fan of the rapper Nipsey Hussel, himself a victim of gun violence in March.

Kelly planned on having his sons play football and loved the Baltimore Ravens, Dominquez said. She added that he also loved and idolized LeBron James.

“He was the life of the party,” Kelly’s father added. “Always a jokester.”

jduffy@jg.net

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