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Filed charges detail life-and-death struggle between FWPD officer, man

Friday, May 24, 2013 - 12:01 am

Charges and a probable-cause affidavit filed Thursday in Allen Superior Court paint a picture of a life-and-death struggle between a Fort Wayne Police Department officer and a man who allegedly drew a gun and began firing at the officer during an investigative stop.

The charges were filed Thursday in Allen Superior Court and stem from an incident that allegedly took place on May 17, according to the probable-cause affidavit.

Daniel L. Spells is charged with Class A felony attempted murder, two counts of Class C felony carrying a handgun without a license, Class D felony criminal recklessness and Class D felony resisting law enforcement, according to documents filed Thursday in Allen Superior Court.

The incident allegedly took place on May 17, when around 9:39 p.m. on that date, an FWPD officer, in full police gear and driving a squad car, responded to a domestic disturbance complaint.

While doing so, the officer heard a description of a man who could have been involved with the domestic disturbance who was possibly walking on South Harrison Street, then spotted a person with a similar description in the 2800 block of South Harrison.

The officer then drove past the man, heading in the opposite direction, which resulted in the man "craning his neck" to watch the police car, the affidavit states. The officer decided to investigate further, turned the police car around, drove back and parked near the man who was walking.

The officer then approached the man and asked his name, which, according to the affidavit, prompted the man to take what was described in the affidavit as a "bladed" stance, where he kept one side of his body turned away from the officer. The man then told the officer that his name was "Dan," which prompted the officer to ask the man for identification.

The man said he did and produced it, but quickly put his right hand back down to his side -- the side that was positioned away from the officer, which prompted concern from the officer and led him to grab Spells' left arm, which was the one closest to him.

The officer reported that Spells then asked, "Why you grabbing me?!" before pulling away, then spinning away from the officer while drawing a silver handgun from the right side of his person, the affidavit claims.

Spells then raised the weapon, but the officer had moved with him and attempted to tackle him. Spells reportedly fired the weapon two times, with the affidavit state that the gun muzzle "was approximately 12 inches from (the officer's) right shoulder when the defendant fired."

Spells reportedly continued to fire the gun while the officer had him wrapped in a bear hug, pinning Spells' arms to his sides, while they fell to the ground. The officer was on top of Spells, with both of them facing the ground, while Spells was continuing to fire the weapon while attempting to free his arm, which he eventually did.

The officer grabbed Spells' arm with the weapon while attempting to jam the slide on the semiautomatic pistol, which Spells kept firing until it was empty, according to the affidavit. The officer was then able to take Spells into custody.

The affidavit said that a vehicle was struck by gunfire, as was an occupied residence, and that further investigation indicates that Spells was not the person involved in the domestic disturbance that drew the officer to investigate in the first place.

Online court records indicate Spells has a lengthy criminal history, including a prior conviction on a weapons charges.