'A sad situation': Greenwood police shoot, kill woman in department parking lot after chase

Update: This story was updated on April 5, 2022, with identifications of the officers who were involved in the shooting of Monica Vaught.

Greenwood police say they don't know why Monica Vaught led pursuing officers to the department's parking lot or why she twice barreled toward them in her vehicle.

“We do not know why she came to the police department at this time,” Greenwood Police Chief James Ison told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m hoping throughout the course of the investigation we can shed a little light on that.”

But she won't be able to tell them.

Four Greenwood officers opened fire on the vehicle Vaught was driving, fatally wounding the 49-year-old Tuesday.

They were identified as Sgt. Brandon Cox, and Officers Elijah Allen, Ben Louzon and Zane Hennig.

Cox has been with the department for 6.5 years, Allen for 3 years, Louzon for 1.5 years and Hennig for eight months, according to the police department.

The police shooting, a relatively rare occurrence in Greenwood, is under an internal and criminal investigation.

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Ison said the fatal encounter began about 11:15 p.m. when the Johnson County dispatch center received a 911 call about a suspected drunk driver traveling on the wrong side of the road near Madison Avenue and County Line Road.

Officers attempted a traffic stop on the suspected vehicle about a mile south of where the complaint originated. Ison said the driver did not stop, and a police chase ensued through downtown Greenwood for several minutes.

Vaught is alleged to have stopped at one point, then continued to drive away from police, striking a wire on a telephone pole.

She then drove turned into the back parking lot of the Greenwood Police Department, at 186 Surina Way.

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Ison said Vaught continued to drive erratically in the lot and struck several parked squad cars. Some of the officers tried to box her in from bumper to bumper. Vaught revved her engine and crashed into the vehicle in front of her, creating enough space to move it out of the way.

Ison said the Greenwood woman then sped toward officers. That’s when they opened fire at the vehicle.

It’s unclear if Vaught was struck at that point, Ison said. She continued to drive throughout the lot for several more minutes. She then drove to the north end of the lot, Ison said, stopped for a few moments, then again drove toward the officers – who shot at the car for a final time.

Four officers fired their guns. Ison estimated there were eight officers total in the lot at the time of the shooting. Police began CPR and first aid. Paramedics pronounced Vaught dead at the scene.

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Ison said they did not find any weapons in the vehicle.

Officers' body cameras and the parking lot’s surveillance footage captured the shooting, he said. The Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the footage as the investigation continues.

“It’s a sad situation all the way around,” Ison said. “A woman lost her life. That’s a mother, daughter, the family no longer has. The four officers involved have to live with that for the rest of their life.”

Ison said he personally knows the toll of police action shootings because he was involved in a fatal police shooting in 2008.

The four officers have been placed on administrative leave with pay as the criminal and internal investigation continues, per standard procedure.

The Johnson County Coroner’s Office is conducting an autopsy.

Contact Sarah Nelson at sarah.nelson@indystar.com or 317-503-7514.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Greenwood police fatally shoot woman they say barreled at them in car