City releases body cam footage in movie incident

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Journal Review on 10/02/2017 by Nick Hedrick

As the video begins, Crawfordsville Police Sgt. Matt Schroeter approaches Backstep Brewing Co., where officers were responding to a report of an armed robbery.

Seconds later, a masked man in a dark shirt and khaki shorts and holding an air gun backs out of the brewery, turning to face the officers.

“Drop the gun! Drop the gun now! Drop the gun!” officers shout.

Schroeter raises his service weapon as the man, later identified as Jim Duff, points his gun toward the police. Schroeter fires a single shot, missing Duff, as he removes his mask and drops the gun.

“We’re doing a movie!” Duff tells the officers.

“Excuse me?” one of the officer’s replies.

The footage, captured on Schroeter’s body camera, shows the Sept. 26 encounter between police and Duff, who was playing an armed robber in a movie being filmed at the brewery. No one from the film crew had notified authorities ahead of time.

Police released the 55-second footage on the city’s website Monday afternoon, as Montgomery County Prosecutor Joe Buser announced no charges will be filed in the incident. Buser reviewed the footage as part of his investigation.

The Journal Review requested a copy of the video through the Freedom of Information Act last week. City officials acknowledged the request but the newspaper did not receive its own copy.

After Duff drops the mask and gun, officers order him to stand back, the video shows. With his back against the wall, Duff once again explains a movie is being filmed. Officers then twice order him to the ground.

As Duff complies, a person in a red shirt appears in the brewery doorway. “You guys better get out of here, man!” a person yells. The officers shout “Stay inside! Stay inside!” as the door shuts.

Other film crew members were inside the brewery as the incident unfolded. The crew earlier said it had permission from Backstep to film.

As Schroeter continues training his gun on Duff, someone says, “We’re filming a movie. I ain’t lying to ‘ya. We’re filming a movie.”

The movie company has praised the department’s quick response. In a statement released on Facebook last week, MCM said it was working with local law enforcement on a plan to prevent future incidents.

“Safety should be of the highest priority, and communication could have spared all of us from the incident, not just for MCM, but for anyone out there looking to make films,” MCM said.