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DIGGING DEEPER: FWPD officer who shot teen has history of excessive force complaints

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) — More than one week after a Fort Wayne police officer shot a 19-year-old man who police say had a gun tucked into his pants, detectives have yet to recover a gun from the scene.

Noah Busche, the man shot by police, insists he never had a gun.

ABC21 is Digging Deeper into the personnel record of the officer who opened fire, Fort Wayne Ofc. Jason Fuhrman.

Internal affairs documents show Fuhrman has had six lawsuits filed against him. One was dropped. One the judge ruled in Fuhrman’s favor, three were settled out of court and one is still pending.

ABC21 uncovered court documents from the three cases settled outside of court.

In 2006, Antoine McFarland filed a complaint against the City of Fort Wayne and five officers – including Fuhrman. McFarland says he was at a birthday party at Bandido’s when he suffered an epileptic seizure and began “having difficulty breathing.” An ambulance was called and officers were dispatched. According to the complaint, one of the officers grabbed McFarland by the throat and slammed him onto the floor. The other officers then “piled on top” of McFarland before transferring him to a cot and handcuffing him. McFarland says he told the officers “I can’t breath” but claims the officers repeatedly shoved his face down into the cot. Prosecutors never filed any charges against McFarland. He was hospitalized and suffered a broken collar bone and injuries to his shoulder, ankle, head, wrists and hands.

Two years later, Fuhrman was involved in another excessive force lawsuit.

In 2008, William Watson sued the Fort Wayne Police two officers including Fuhrman, saying the officers “beat him, stomped on him, kicked him, handcuffed him and then beat him some more.” Watson says after he was handcuffed, officers punched him in the eye so badly that he needed 12 stitches.

And in 2012, Lamar Burnett the City of Fort Wayne and five officers for excessive and unreasonable force. Burnett claims officers jumped on him and began beating him, saying one of the officers sat on him while another kicked and punched him in the face, head, neck, torso, and ribs. Burnett says when the officers were done beating him, “they stepped back and one said, ‘spray him,’ at which time Burnett was maced/pepper sprayed.” Burnett says he was not trying to fight back or run away during the attack. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated for a broken nose, blackened yes and other bruises to his face and head. Court documents say Burnett was mistaken for a suspect in a robbery, though was charged and “pled out” to resisting law enforcement – though Burnett says he had “given up attempts to flee” by the time officer began beating him.

Again, the City/Fort Wayne Police settled all three lawsuits outside of court.

The lawsuits are not the only blemish on Fuhrman’s record.

Fuhrman’s personnel record also shows he has crashed his squad car four times in 10 years. All of them were found to be “preventable” and in fact, he was suspended for three of those accidents.

And last week’s officer-involved shooting is not Fuhrman’s first.

Ten years ago, Fuhrman shot a man during a chase near the Superior Street bus station. He claimed the man pointed a gun at him and an internal investigation cleared Fuhrman of any wrong-doing. As for the man he was chasing – he pleaded guilty to criminal recklessness and resisting law enforcement.

And just two years ago, Fuhrman was among several officers involved in another shooting. That time, police confronted three men on Alexander Street carrying handguns. One officer fired his weapon when the suspects tried to run, though no one was shot. It’s not clear which officer fired his gun, however an internal investigation once again cleared Fuhrman of any wrongdoing.

Just before 10 p.m. on July 15th, police were dispatched to Cambridge Blvd. – just behind the Gateway Plaza off Goshen Road. A caller reported “a suspicious man walking around with a gun.”

Ofc. Fuhrman says when he got out of his car, he saw Busche with a gun on him. The officer says Busche charged at him, so he opened fire – hitting busche in the hip. Fuhrman says Busche then tried to run off, but collapsed soon after.

Busche was treated at a hospital, before officers booked him into jail. He has since been released.

Again, Busche denies ever having a gun, but he admits he was high on pot and wearing headphones on his walk home. He told detectives that he tried to run because he is afraid of police.

Patrol officers don’t wear body cameras so internal investigators will have to lean on other security footage to see what led up to the shooting.

Fuhrman is a 14-year veteran of the Fort Wayne Police Department. He was a lateral hire from the Allen County Sheriff’s Department.

Alexis Shear

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