Update Nov. 2: Decker addresses commission, public: “I made a real mistake” but denies leaving the scene

Booking photo for David Decker (courtesy LaPorte County Sheriff's Office)

Nov. 1, 2016, booking photo of David Decker (courtesy LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office)

LaPorte County Commissioner David Decker, who is seeking re-election to that office in the Nov. 8, 2016, election, is facing a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of a property damage accident that occurred on Oct. 26, 2016, according to Indiana State Police.

Decker was booked at the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office at about 10:50 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, after turning himself in. He immediately posted a cash bond of $205 and was released at approximately 11:30 a.m., according to the sheriff’s office.

Decker read this statement at the start of the LaPorte County Commission meeting Wednesday morning, Nov. 2:

“I’ve got a statement I’d like to read. All of you have read about the events of one week ago. As I think back, it’s clear to me I made a real mistake in not taking the time to get a good, close look at the other vehicle. I was in a hurry, it was raining and I had a meeting that I was late for.

“I admit that I made a mistake. I’m human. Sometimes we all get in a hurry. I honestly believed there was no damage to the SUV, and my mistake was looking over at that bumper from too far away and not taking the time to go up right next to that vehicle and get a better look.

“We all have had situations in crowded parking lots where you have to instantly assess whether it’s just a casual bump or whether it’s something more serious where insurance information should be exchanged.
I didn’t think I had done anything wrong. I had no reason to hide anything. If I had known there was damage, I would have filed a report. I have insurance. When the issue was brought to my attention, I immediately reported it to my insurance company. I fully cooperated with everyone.

“I also did not flee the scene. I had business in the county building across the street, and parked my truck there when I saw a spot opened up. My truck was there for over two hours, as I had three different meetings that afternoon at the Complex and the Hiler Building.

“I was surprised when I was charged with leaving the scene, as I was in the county buildings for several hours, and the police officer left me with the impression that I had not done anything wrong. That misdemeanor situation, as well as the issue of any property damage that I may have caused, will be properly resolved.

“This experience has been a humbling one, and has served as an unnecessary distraction for the county. I am sorry for this. And, the bottom line is that none of this would have happened if I had taken the timet o properly look at the other vehicle. That’s my mistake, and I also apologize for that.”

The release from the state police Lowell post: 

“The Indiana State Police were contacted by LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office to investigate a leaving the scene property damage crash. The crash occurred in a parking lot located at 555 Michigan Ave., LaPorte. This is a parking lot located east of the LaPorte County Complex government center. First Sergeant Al Williamson assigned Master Trooper Randy Palmer to investigate the crash. Palmer’s investigation revealed that on 10/26/16 a gray 2011 Ford pickup truck was observed entering the parking lot and making a right turn. During this time the Ford sideswiped the rear bumper of a blue 2002 Ford Explorer that was parked and unoccupied in the lot. The suspect vehicle then left the scene, failing to remain at the scene. The driver failed to provide his operator’s name, address, registration and other information as required by statute.

“Further investigation revealed that the suspect is David Decker, 71, of Union Mills. Williamson forwarded the case to the LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office for review of charges. A warrant was issued for Mr. Decker for leaving the scene of a property damage crash, a Class B misdemeanor. Decker has turned himself in to the LaPorte County Jail, where he has been processed and released.”

Decker’s attorney, Stephen Scheele, released this letter to the media this morning (Nov. 1):

“This will confirm my office’s representation of David Decker with respect to a misdemeanor charge of “Leaving the Scene of an Accident,” filed against him for a minor car bumper scrape that allegedly occurred in a county-owned parking lot on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.

“The low-level nature of the scraped bumper raises a question of whether any report was required. That issue aside, Mr. Decker did not leave the scene; he remained on the county premises for hours after the alleged event. Mr. Decker has been and remains fully cooperative with investigating law enforcement officials. He has reported the matter to his private auto insurance company, where it is being appropriately reviewed and handled.

“These types of events are civil in nature. In the rare instances that they do make it to court, they are in the small claims court; they do not warrant criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, the timing and nature of this misdemeanor charge smack of political motivation or retribution. Particularly troubling is that Mr. Decker’s political foes were making fodder of this prosecution before the formal filing of charges was even made public. Also troubling is that the LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office, perhaps unwittingly, permitted itself to become a pawn of political gamesmanship.

“To that end, the circumstances of this misdemeanor filing are unfortunate. They wrongly impugn the integrity of a hardworking and decent public servant, retired steelworker and gentleman. They unnecessarily distract from the real issues in the days leading up to next week’s election. The voters of LaPorte County know better.

“Mr. Decker will be vigorously defended against a misdemeanor charge that should not have been filed. Further questions or concerns about this event may be directed to the undersigned.”

STEPHEN E. SCHEELE
GOODMAN, KATZ & SCHEELE
Highland, IN

The LaPorte County GOP released this statement Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 1:

“Today, in the wake of the arrest of incumbent Democrat Commissioner Dave Decker, as a result of charges being filed against him for leaving the scene of an accident, the LaPorte County Republican Party expresses its disappointment and outrage for the manner in which Decker chose to deal with this matter.

“Decker’s initial response, in damaging another’s property, without contacting proper authorities or leaving his contact information, highlights the lack of accountability he has to the public. Decker had admitted to hitting the vehicle, only after being confronted with video from a county security camera.  Despite this, he said to reporters, ‘(I am) confident that after speaking with the investigating officer that there is no allegation of wrongdoing on my part.’ This shows that even with clear and convincing proof of wrongdoing, Decker is unable to hold himself responsible for his actions, apologize, and accept the repercussions. These repercussions may include up to 180 days of jail time.

“County Republican Chair Michael Gonder stated, ‘Unfortunately, this hit and run is not the first time the citizens of LaPorte County have seen this kind of unethical behavior from Dave Decker. He has yet to apologize to the public for knowingly passing up a $1 million matching grant for road repair from the state and hold himself accountable for the condition of our roads. As voters, we must make him face the consequences of his actions and vote him out.'”

Michael Gonder, chairman-LaPorte County Republican Party

24 Responses to “Update Nov. 2: Decker addresses commission, public: “I made a real mistake” but denies leaving the scene”

  1. Greg Dadlow

    Nov 01. 2016

    I will be voting for Decker because of this bullying. The State Police was called? Tisk tisk…

    Reply to this comment
  2. Charles Hiigli

    Nov 01. 2016

    Better have the FBI check his emails.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Voter

    Nov 01. 2016

    Typical politician lie, cheat, and see what you can get away with.

    Reply to this comment
  4. bob

    Nov 01. 2016

    Gee David , who left the scene , . yeah Dave blame everyone for you not reporting , see what happens when you do not do the right thing .

    Reply to this comment
  5. Ron Brauer

    Nov 01. 2016

    When I was in driver education (back in 1970 or so) I was taught that if you hit an unattended car, you must call the police immediately to file an incident report. That was the simple ‘rules of the road.” They are rules for that reason. It protects the person offended, and it protects the individual who caused the offense. Those in government should be expected to abide by the law, not take it in their own hands to ‘do it later when convenient’. I think the opinion of Mr. Decker would have been more favorable if he had immediately reported the incident, filed the necessary paper work, and move on. Instead, we have this mess, something that neither Democrats or Republicans need to see this close to the elections.

    Reply to this comment
  6. John

    Nov 01. 2016

    Tsk. Lost my vote for such stupidity.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Judge Roy Bean

    Nov 01. 2016

    Sounds cut and dry to me even if it was a minor scrape. He caused damage to someone’s car and tried to get away with it. Someone recently hit my truck in a parking lot and left the scene without saying anything. I am now stuck with a $500 deductible to fix my own vehicle for the damage some idiot did to it.
    Mr Decker, you committed a crime, face it. Your attorney is full of hot air. You should both be ashamed of yourselves.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Big Al

    Nov 01. 2016

    Not the kind of person I want making decisions for our county. I wonder if any politician can tell the truth or be trusted. Their actions speak louder than their words.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Oldeskule

    Nov 02. 2016

    The State Police were called to prevent any possible thought that it might be retribution by the Sheriff’s department. Good Call Sheriff.

    It could have been easily resolved prior to the report by simply calling the local police to check the situation out. Did that occur? Nope. since Mr. Decker and myself are the approximate same age, I know that if he took drivers ed it was the same course I took. Stop, and report. Not stop, see if anyone is looking and then leave.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Bob

    Nov 02. 2016

    GEE did I do that which means we should not do that Tuesday

    Reply to this comment
  11. Deb

    Nov 02. 2016

    I hope all of the perfect people who live in their nice glass houses turn out to vote on Tuesday. And when you reach the Pearly Gates, the gate will be open for you.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Ron Brauer

    Nov 02. 2016

    When someone issues a public apology, it is proper to offer forgiveness. Yes, a lesson is learned. We are never the same person after an event like this. But let’s see how forgiveness can work in a person’ life, rather than the opposite. Perhaps a change of heart for others when they face a similar situation. We look to our elected officials for examples of civil participation in our society. I cannot judge the ‘fleeing the scene’ charge. Mr. Decker has apologized, and I think this is an example of civil leadership. Now it is time for positive reinforcement and working together as a civil society. Mr. Decker, you have my forgiveness. I trust this counts as something for you.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Alt Right

    Nov 03. 2016

    To those of you who say we should forgive him and it was no big deal, etc. I say what if it was your car? And to quote Decker, if it was a “casual bump”, aka a minor collision, why not spend thirty seconds to at least leave your name and phone number on the windshield?

    Honestly this event has nothing to do with politics so it doesn’t affect my decision one way or the other but this kind of behavior just seems to always be coming from the left.

    Reply to this comment
    • Just Not right

      Nov 03. 2016

      Well said “Alt Right”.
      I don’t know Mr. Decker from Black & Decker, but what I read above is Mr. Decker didn’t turn himself in until confronted with the video. I doubt we would have had the same results if that video didn’t present itself.
      Face it, he did NOT do the right thing.

      Reply to this comment
  14. D.L.K.

    Nov 03. 2016

    I was undecided who to vote for before this event –

    MR. DECKER YOU NOW HAVE MY VOTE!!!

    I totally agree with Deb & Greg Dadlow. Tisk Tisk!!!

    Reply to this comment
  15. Matt Dowty

    Nov 03. 2016

    Dave Decker has my Vote, and Mr. Gonder gave me one more reason to never vote republican.

    Reply to this comment
  16. J.gottio

    Nov 03. 2016

    Yes a little harsh …YOU HAVE MY VOTE OLE MAN

    Reply to this comment
  17. Alt right

    Nov 04. 2016

    And the stupidity from mindless voters continues! He committed a crime and now he’s being “picked on” so you’re going to vote for him.

    I’ll tell you what, Richard Nixon would’ve loved you guys. You’re also the reason the clintons aren’t in prison and the reason this country has passed the tipping point of self destruction. Your logic is completely backwards and even when facts stare you straight in the face, you make up some pathetic excuse to justify the illegal actions.

    Reply to this comment
  18. LSG

    Nov 04. 2016

    I would bet there is not a person out there who hasn’t made a decision (or mistake) that they later regretted or realized they did not do the right thing. Apology accepted and I have already voted for you because I know you are a good person who made a mistake!

    Reply to this comment
  19. Confused

    Nov 04. 2016

    Guy should of known better he screwed up! You people who feel sorry for him are a bunch of jokes! I will not be voting for this waste!

    Reply to this comment
  20. gobnaitx

    Nov 04. 2016

    Mr. Gonder, one of the main rules of politics is when the other guy is shooting himself in the foot, stay out of the way. There was no need for the GOP to come out with guns blazing, wailing about “180 days in jail” (which they have to know will NEVER happen). Decker obviously made a mistake in judgment. Why put out this dumb statement, which merely supports the attorney’s claim that politics is behind the arrest?

    Reply to this comment
  21. Kasey Masepohl

    Nov 05. 2016

    From one steelworker to another you have my vote Dave!.

    USW 9231

    Reply to this comment
  22. Goolie studdermeyer

    Nov 06. 2016

    Let’s see how many of these bleeding heart do-gooders vote for Trump on Tuesday. He hasn’t committed any crimes, and the one he is running against, repeatedly LIED to congress. I wonder how many of you going-down-with-the-titanic democrat halfwits put your money where your mouth is? That’s what I thought, clowns.

    Reply to this comment
  23. Big Al

    Nov 10. 2016

    From all the folks you sacrificed for your RPG we say you’re welcome. We said we would work to rid the county of you but never expected you would help us so much. Good riddence

    Reply to this comment

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