Press Release

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew A. Myers has announced the suspension of three deputies following an internal investigation into the failure to properly serve an emergency detention order.

The suspensions come after the shooting death of Derek Henderson of Columbus on Saturday, Jan. 3rd who allegedly entered another person's home early that morning with a baseball bat and was shot to death by the homeowner. 

An emergency detention order issued on Friday Jan. 3rd, directed “any police officer” to detain Derek Henderson for emergency treatment as necessary for his own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others.

The investigation revealed that visual and verbal contact was made with Mr. Henderson in his Columbus home, but Mr. Henderson refused to leave his home or allow the deputies entrance. The deputies eventually left the scene without detaining Mr. Henderson and made no further attempt to serve the emergency detention order. While deputies are trained to avoid escalating matters involving a mental health order, they had other options at their disposal. According to Sheriff Myers, the deputies should not have left the scene until Mr. Henderson was detained as directed by the emergency detention order.

Lt. Gary Knoef, Sgt. Jason Lancaster and Sgt. Jason Williams have all been suspended for 15 days without pay for their roles in the failure to detain Mr. Henderson. They will also be demoted from their Sheriff appointed positions. Deputy Gary Knoef will return to his position as a merit sergeant. Deputies Lancaster and Williams will return to their positions as merit patrolmen. 

"One of the biggest challenges facing police officers nationwide, is the challenge of policing the mentally ill," Myers said in a written statement. "Mental illness varies in nature and severity, and each situation encountered by officers will be unique. Ongoing training is necessary to adequately address this challenge."

Acknowledging this need, Sheriff Myers and two members of his leadership team had previously committed to attending the Indiana Sheriff’s Association’s Winter Meeting at the end of January where mental health issues and training will be discussed and studied.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers and his Office extends its deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the families and friends affected by these tragic events.