A homeowner thought a cop was a porch pirate, now he’s charged with a felony

An Amazon package is seen on the porch of a Jersey City, N.J. residence after its delivery Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. An Indianapolis man has been charged with felony criminal confinement after he confronted an undercover police officer he thought was a potential package thief.

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An Amazon package is seen on the porch of a Jersey City, N.J. residence after its delivery Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. An Indianapolis man has been charged with felony criminal confinement after he confronted an undercover police officer he thought was a potential package thief.

An Indiana homeowner is facing a felony charge after a case of mistaken identity in which he thought an undercover police officer was a porch pirate seeking to steal packages from homes in his neighborhood.

Scott Strother, 32, of Indianapolis, is charged with criminal confinement, according to Marion County court records. He was officially charged Tuesday, but his wife told Fox59 in Indianapolis on Wednesday that her husband was out of town for work and will turn himself in when he returns.

According to Indiana's criminal code, criminal confinement is defined as when a person "knowingly or intentionally confines another person without the other person's consent." It is a Level 6 felony, for which Strother faces six to 30 months in jail.

The Strothers knew nothing about the charge until a Fox59 camera crew showed up at their door, the news station reported.

"He had no intent on threatening an officer, obviously," Strother's wife told the news station.

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The incident took place last week as Indianapolis police officers searched for a homicide suspect, Fox59 said. A probable cause affidavit obtained by the news station said that Strother spotted one officer and used his SUV to block the officer's unmarked car from leaving the area.

He confronted the officer, one hand on a handgun in his pocket, because he "thought the officer was on his street stealing packages that had been delivered," the affidavit said. Officers told Strother he "could not legally stop and detain persons that he viewed as suspicious," the document said.

Strother allegedly told the officers he felt he had done nothing wrong and “would do whatever he needed to do to protect his neighborhood,” according to the affidavit.

Fox59 reported that prosecutors said the officer activated the lights on his visor and told Strother to get back in his vehicle, but Strother's wife disputes that claim. She said the officer did not identify himself as a law enforcement officer until backup arrived.

"Now we have felony charges against my husband?" she said. "That's really kind of ridiculous. I mean, he's a stand-up guy. He's a Boy Scout leader."

Facebook page appearing to belong to Strother indicates he is a U.S. Army veteran who is studying at Western Governors University, an online university based in Salt Lake City.

Strother was not arrested at the time of the incident, and his wife told Fox59 that they filed a complaint against the officer. Five days later, Strother was facing a felony charge.

An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson told the news station there are “very limited circumstances” in which a private citizen can detain someone.

"Acting suspicious is not one of them," the spokesperson said. "We recommend that folks call police so we can investigate."

Indianapolis defense attorney Jack Crawford, who is not connected to Strother's case, told Fox59 he did not understand why a felony charge was levied against the homeowner.

"I don't think he committed a crime," Crawford told the news station. "It sounds to me (as if) he's a citizen with a handgun permit with prior military training who was trying to protect his family and his neighborhood, and it didn't escalate to where he drew his weapon."

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