On February 24th, 1972 a 25-year-old Marion County (Ind.) Sheriff’s Deputy named Tom Settles was shot and killed by a bank robber named Billy Ray Adams. Adams was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, but yesterday, seeking early release, he made his eighth appearance before a parole board.
According to an AP report yesterday in the Chicago Tribune, Adams is apparently claiming that he fired at random, unintentionally killing Deputy Settles. However, there apparently exists some surveillance video footage that renders that claim absurd — video that reportedly shows Adams standing over Settles’ already bleeding body, saying something to the effect of “I’m going to shoot him. I’m going to waste this pig,” and then coldly murdering Deputy Settles.
The Tribune article also reported that Debra Harrison, who was working as a teller at the bank when the robbery occurred, told the board that she also heard Adams utter the words “I’m going to waste this pig.”
Frank Anderson — a former Marion County Sheriff — submitted a written statement to the board in which he described Settles’ murder as a “brutal execution.”
Also in that AP report was some of the testimony made by Dawn Veirs, who was born eight months after her father was killed on the floor of that Indianapolis bank. “This was not random,” she reportedly said. “It was blatant and it was intentional.”
Several reports indicate that Adams’ family argued before the parole board that Adams suffered from post-traumatic stress resulting from his time served in the Vietnam War, and blamed his PTSD for his murderous actions on that day in 1972.
Now, I have nothing but the highest respect for the men and women who have worn (and continue to wear) this nation’s uniform and fought on foreign lands beneath this nation’s flag, but I cannot support the idea that the murder of an officer can be attributed to — let alone excused by — the traumatic emotional residue of warfare.
My friend and fellow PoliceOne columnist Dan Marcou concurs. “Billy Ray Adams’ veteran status does not negate his personal choice to become a bank robber and a cop-killer,” Marcou told me today. “Especially since Officer Settles was also a Vietnam Veteran. The sad thing about this is the fact that every five years, his victims have to drag themselves before the parole board and relive their trauma, and Officer Settles’ daughter Dawn has to face the board and remind them, ‘Thanks to Billy Ray Adams I will never have the love of a father’.”
Marcou adds that “the ironic thing is an actual life sentence would punish the criminal and protect the public from the criminal, but the death penalty is the only thing that really protects the public from parole boards.”
I’ve been unable to quickly locate an online petition form — which is for the best, because we know how well those work — but according to its website the Indiana Parole Board can be reached at 317-232-5737. Better yet, you can send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell them PoliceOne sent you!
The parole board is scheduled to vote on Adams’ parole on January 20, 2011.
Go get ‘em.