Mercer sheriff: Officer in fatal shooting was 'in fear for his life'

April 20, 2013

CELINA — A Celina officer officer was “in fear for his life” when he fatally shot an armed man in broad daylight, according to an investigation by the Mercer County sheriff.

Sheriff Jeff Grey unveiled Friday morning in Celina the results of the investigation: Patrolman Andy Regedanz, 33, confronted Robert Hensley, 39, of St. Marys. When Hensley — who wore a cowboy hat, sandals and no shirt — turned “aggressively” with a firearm in his left hand, Regedanz shot him twice.

Hensley carried a .22-caliber revolver he had purchased March 18. Two rounds had been fired, Grey said, and the remaining four chambers were empty.

“My conclusion and opinion is that Officer Regedanz was in fear for his life and others around him,” Grey said. “He has the right to protect himself and the duty to protect the others.”

Grey said he forwarded his investigation to the Mercer County prosecutor’s office. He recommended the grand jury review the case “not because I think there is a violation of law, but I believe it is the right thing to do.”

The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation of the 12-year Celina police veteran.

Grey said he continued to view the investigation as a homicide investigation. It never was a murder investigation, he said, discounting a Celina newspaper story. A murder suggests the death was due to a crime.

Grey said the investigation included interviews with 33 people, including five who witnessed the shooting. It took nine days to complete. Interviews revealed Hensley recently had exhibited unusual behavior, including hearing voices. His family told investigators they considered calling police so he could get help.

Grey recounted Hensley’s final day, which started with waking at 7:30 a.m. and dying at 12:46 p.m. Hensley looked at firearms and used an indoor range that morning for half an hour. His vehicle wouldn’t start when he left the range, so he walked to McDonald’s and ate at the Eagles before returning to his disabled car.

That’s when Hensley was seen walking on East Livingston Street “twirling” his gun, Grey said, and 911 received its first call. Another call from the same caller said he’d moved on to Market Street near LeBlonde. Regedanz was dispatched and found Hensley at Lake Shore Auto Sales, where Hensley confronted Regedanz.

Hensley started with his back to Regedanz, about 12 feet apart. Regedanz shouted commands to Hensley to stop and show his hands. That’s when Hensley said he was “packing,” drawing the revolver with his left hand from a holster clipped in his right pocket, Grey said.

Hensley turned “aggressively” to his left, bringing the gun toward Regedanz. Regedanz raised his gun, firing two shots from his .40-caliber firearm. One shot tore through Hensley’s left arm between the elbow and shoulder. Another shot hit near Hensley’s left shoulder blade and traveled through his torso. exiting the front-right side of the body.

Hensley then dropped his gun and fell to the ground. He died at Mercer Health.

“My heart goes out to the Hensley family in the loss of their loved one and to Officer Regedanz, as no police officer ever wants to take a life,” Grey said.