Editor’s note: An updated story on Fox 59, and readers who reached out to the Bloomingtonian, said the initial information in the press release isn’t accurate. The deceased man was not trying to throw a woman off the cliff.
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The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office sent the following press release Friday:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2023
MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE INVESTIGATES DEATH
AT CEDAR BLUFFS NATURE PRESERVE
BLOOMINGTON, IN – On April 10 at 6:00 p.m., Deputy Trent Walls was dispatched to contact
the complainant by telephone regarding a “Mental Health in Progress Call.” The complainant
stated that a friend was using her partner’s phone and texting saying that “people are going to
find him at the bottom of Cedar Bluff.” The caller stated that the friend was David Howard and
that he had mental health issues. The complainant advised she was not aware of Mr. Howard’s
location but knew he was not at his residence. She also stated she did not know if she wanted
officers to check on Mr. Howard because she was afraid if he discovered the police were called it
would escalate the situation. The complainant then stated she did not want Deputies to check on
him at that time and wanted to confer with Mr. Howard’s partner before having Deputies make
contact with him. The complainant stated she would call back if she needed any further
assistance or response.
At 7:06 p.m., Deputy Trent Walls and Deputy Shawn Sullivan were dispatched to 8484 South
Ketcham Road to a call stating there was a body at the bottom of the cliffs. It was later
determined this call was placed by Mr. Howard. When the Deputies arrived on scene they
searched the area, along with Monroe Fire personnel, but were unable to locate a body. While
searching the area, they eventually located two subjects atop the cliff, near the cliff edge,
involved in a physical altercation. It appeared to the Deputies the male, later identified as Mr.
Howard, was attempting to throw the female off the cliff. Deputies and fire personnel rushed
over and grabbed Mr. Howard, wrestled him to the ground, and handcuffed him for the safety of
those on scene. After being restrained, Mr. Howard was placed in a seated position and Deputies
were able to deescalate the situation. Mr. Howard remained cooperative and quiet from that time
forward. During approximately thirteen (13) minutes of interaction with Mr. Howard and the
involved female, Mr. Howard remained unengaged and quiet but made a statement “you were
supposed to carry me out of here.” It was determined by Deputy Sullivan and Deputy Walls that
Mr. Howard needed to be taken to IU Health Hospital for a mental health evaluation due to his
mental health state.
As Deputies were preparing to escort Mr. Howard back to their patrol vehicle for transport, they
communicated with Mr. Howard they were going to walk him from the area. At that time Mr.
Howard demonstrated no signs of resistance, standing as directed and was fully cooperating with
the officers. Mr. Howard cooperatively took two steps when he suddenly rotated to the right
and forcefully pulled away from Deputy Sullivan who was holding Mr. Howard in an escort
position. As Mr. Howard rotated to a position behind Deputy Sullivan, he began to run towards
the edge of the cliff. Deputy Sullivan grabbed Mr. Howard’s arm a second time in an attempt to
control him, which pulled Deputy Sullivan closer the edge of the cliff. Mr. Howard forcefully
pulled away again and jumped off the cliff. The elapsed time from when Mr. Howard rotated
from Deputy Sullivan’s control to when he leapt from the cliff’s edge was approximately two (2)
seconds. Ambulance and fire personnel were on scene during the incident and provided
lifesaving care to Mr. Howard; however, it was unsuccessful. Mr. Howard passed from his
The Monroe County Coroner was contacted along with Monroe County Sheriff Department
Detectives who arrived on scene and assumed the investigation. The initial investigation was
completed on April 14, 2023. Toxicology results are pending. An autopsy was scheduled by the
Coroner and completed Wednesday, April 13, 2023. The preliminary cause of death was listed
as multiple blunt force injuries with the manner of death listed as suicide by the Forensic
A preliminary administrative review of the incident was conducted. The review determined the
Deputies actions during this incident were within departmental policies and procedures.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office extends its sincere condolences to the family and friends of
Mr. Howard for their tremendous loss.
Deputy Jeffrey Brown
The condensed body camera footage of Deputy Walls is available here.
The condensed body camera footage of Deputy Sullivan is available here.
Editor’s note: Press releases are posted as a public service to the community, and not all information can always be verified firsthand.
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