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Man from Bloomington dies at a nature reserve after eluding police and jumping off a cliff



Bloomington, Indianan – On April 10, a Bloomington man perished at Cedar Bluff Nature Preserve after fleeing from law enforcement and jumping off a cliff. When David Howard, 39, began to pull away from the police, they were attempting to take him to their patrol cars so that he could be driven for a mental health evaluation.

According to a news statement from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, the autopsy was finished by the Monroe County Coroner on April 13. Multiple blunt force injuries are the preliminary cause of Howard’s death, and suicide is the preliminary cause of death.

Although the initial investigation into the death by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department detectives was concluded on April 14, the case is still under investigation because detectives are still awaiting the results of the toxicology tests, the results of the final autopsy, and any new information that may have been provided, according to Monroe County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jeffrey Brown in an email. Brown stated that it often takes several weeks for the agency to receive toxicology results.

On April 10, at around 7 o’clock, Trent Walls and Shawn Sullivan of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call at Cedar Bluff Nature Preserve that was later found to have been made by Howard and stated that there was a body at the base of the cliffs at the nature preserve. The deputies searched the area on the evening of April 10 with assistance from the Monroe County Fire Protection District, but they were unable to find a corpse.

The deputies discovered Howard and a lady fighting physically at the top of the cliff while conducting their search. According to the news release, deputies believed Howard was attempting to push the woman off the cliff, so they restrained and handcuffed him along with the firefighters.

“After reviewing the entire case report, the initial response from the on scene Deputies said it appeared Mr. Howard was wrestling with the woman but, later through interviews it was determined she was trying to prevent him from jumping off the cliff,” Brown said in an email. This information was not included in the original press release.

The press release claims that throughout the 13 minutes of conversation between the deputy, Howard, and the woman, Howard remained silent and disengaged. In contrast, Howard reportedly told the deputies and emergency personnel on the scene that “You were supposed to carry me out of here,” according to Brown’s email.

The deputies informed Howard, who was sitting and shackled, that they were going to walk him toward the location of their patrol vehicles after Walls and Sullivan decided Howard should be brought to IU Health Bloomington Hospital for a mental health evaluation. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department’s press release and video from a deputy’s body camera show that Howard initially cooperated with law enforcement before abruptly turning away and veering toward the cliff’s edge. Deputy Sullivan grabbed Howard’s arm in an effort to restrain him, but Howard resisted and leaped from the 75-foot precipice.

The press statement claims that two seconds passed between the time Howard escaped Sullivan’s control and the moment he plunged from the cliff. Care was given by the on-site medical staff, but Howard passed away as a result of his wounds.

In a news release, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office reported that a preliminary administrative assessment had determined Walls and Sullivan’s conduct to be “within departmental policies and procedures.”

Walls replied to a call from a worried friend of Howard who claimed Howard was using her partner’s phone to send texts saying “People are going to find him at the bottom of Cedar Bluff.” About an hour before dispatching to Cedar Bluff Nature Preserve, Walls received the call. Brown stated that there is currently no explanation as to why Howard had access to the complainant’s partner’s phone. The buddy claimed that she was unaware of his whereabouts at the moment.

The companion also reportedly said she did not want deputies to get in touch with Howard because she thought that would only make things worse. She promised to speak with Howard’s partner and call the deputies back if more information or assistance was required.