The following statement was provided to Where the River Frowns by Shannon, Ricky Ard's niece:
The Ard family would like to express our deepest gratitude to the community for the heartfelt outpouring of sympathy. We are very much appreciative of all the expressions of support.
Around 11 a.m., about a dozen people gathered outside the Winfield K. Benton Federal Building in downtown Evansville to stand up against the police killing of 55-year-old Evansville native Ricky Ard, who had been fatally shot there twenty-four hours before.
One protester stated that his goal was to call attention to Ard's killing and to take a strong stand against the police so that they think twice in the future before killing more people.
Ard was shot and killed by police yesterday, August 29, 2017, outside of the federal building by an Evansville police officer who has been identified as Kenny Dutschke and a federal security officer employed by the U.S. Marshals who has yet to be identified. Surveillance cameras on site show that Ard had a baseball bat and had smashed out the front windows of the federal building.
Early this morning, workers eliminated the elaborate memorial that Evansville residents had created the night before outside the building, washing away chalk from the public sidewalk and throwing away posters, candles and stuffed animals left by mourners.
Evansville residents gathered tonight outside the Winfield K. Denton Federal Building to hold a vigil for Ricky Ard who was murdered earlier today by police.
Approximately sixty people attended the spontaneous vigil, which was organized by word of mouth and social media. Although no centralized group took responsibility for organizing the event, the group appeared unified in their message that Ard's murder was unjustified.
An Evansville police officer and a federal security officer employed by the U.S. Marshals shot and killed an Evansville man, 55-year-old Ricky Ard, outside the Winfield K. Benton Federal Building in downtown Evansville today.
Police allege that Ard smashed out the front windows of the federal building with a baseball bat and was complaining about "the government" during the confrontation. One witness, Andrew Wolfe, interviewed by the Evansville Courier and Press, said that the police tried to use a Taser on Ard, but it "didn't work." According to police, Ard was kicked out of the Federal Building yesterday after some sort of incident.
Of course, Ard cannot tell his own side of the story, and as of yet, no information is available from his family or loved ones that could shed light on this incident.
EPD spokesperson Sgt. Jason Cullum could not confirm whether or not the officer's body camera was on during the shooting. If it was, the video will eventually become public record but could be withheld from the public during an investigation period. Video from surveillance cameras attached to the federal building has yet to be released.
According to the project Killed by Police, which tracks police murders, Ricky Ard is the 804th person killed by police in the U.S. in 2017. According to The Counted, a project that tracked police murders last year, police killed 1,092 people in the U.S. in 2016.
According to their press release, the Evansville Police Department claims the officers believed "the man’s continued violent behavior posed an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death," and that "the officers discharged their firearms to protect themselves." They also stated, in a Tweet, that the officers had used "multiple de-escalation techniques" prior to shooting Ard.
But some Evansville residents have taken issue with this claim, wondering why two armed and trained officers could not resolve this incident without loss of life.
Jeremy Wilson, an Evansville resident, wrote in comments on Facebook: "They should of shot him in the shoulder or leg, he should still be alive. They are trained to aim before firing. My point is they killed a guy who had a bat! A bat! This should of been handled so different than just killing him... They should of went and picked up a couple Jim Town thugs and said 'give you guys 20$ bucks to disarm him.' And watch what they would of done with out killing him...if they would have done their job this guy would be alive right now getting mentally assessed and figuring out what he needs to get to the help he needs, not put down like a rabid dog."
Another resident wondered why the officers had failed to properly deploy their Tasers: "Help me understand something...Officers are trained to protect and serve right? You can shoot a man 4 to 5 times with a gun but you can't hit him once with a tazer? Yeah great job."
As usual, the corporate media sprung into immediate action, helping the police justify the killing, parroting police talking points word-for-word, and working to vilify Ard. Article headlines on the Evansville Courier and Press website read "Witness: Man was swinging bat before fatal shooting" and "EPD: Taser, talk failed before fatal police shooting at federal building." And in a sentence so contrived as to be laughable were it not so common, 14 News mysteriously stated that "A man died after an officer-involved shooting." How the officers were "involved" and how the man "died" are left to speculation.
Editors' Note (August 30, 2017): An earlier draft of this article contained a photo, taken by the Evansville Courier and Press, of Ricky Ard's body. This photo has been removed at the request of Ricky's family.