Image: Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry speaks Thursday during a news conference regarding the murder of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer David Moore.
Matt Kryger  /  AP
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry speaks Thursday during a news conference regarding the murder of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer David Moore. Prosecutors announced charges against 60-year-old Thomas Hardy, a convicted felon they say fatally shot Moore during a traffic stop.
updated 1/27/2011 9:55:30 PM ET 2011-01-28T02:55:30

A 60-year-old man with a long criminal history was charged Thursday with murder in the fatal shooting of an Indianapolis police officer whose handgun, prosecutors said, was still in its holster when he was gunned down in a driveway.

Thomas Hardy, whom state correction officials say had been erroneously released from jail in December, is scheduled to appear in court Friday in Officer David Moore's death. He faces one count each of murder, robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

Moore was declared brain-dead Wednesday, three days after he was shot four times — twice in the head — during a Sunday traffic stop. The 29-year-old officer's death was the city's first fatal police shooting in seven years.

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Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry praised police investigators for "swiftly and efficiently" investigating the shooting, which had left the 29-year-old Moore in a coma until he was declared brain-dead Wednesday.

"This office will now vigorously prosecute this case to its conclusion," he said during a news conference.

Hardy is expected to be assigned an attorney after Friday's hearing.

Curry spoke to reporters at police headquarters hours after Indianapolis police officers escorted Moore's body to a city morgue. Moore had remained on life-support Wednesday until an organ procurement team arrived to fulfill Moore's wish of donating his organs in the event of his death.

Curry said investigators have recovered the murder weapon at the home of an acquaintance of Hardy's and that ballistics testing tied it to seven shell casings from the crime scene.

When Moore pulled over Hardy's car, he knew the vehicle had been reported stolen in December, according to a probably cause affidavit.

David Moore
This file photo provided by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department shows Officer David Moore, who was shot during a Sunday morning traffic stop.

The affidavit also states that Hardy recounted the traffic stop to a female acquaintance, telling her that he "knew he could go back to prison" if the officer found his gun. The woman said Hardy told her he put a round in the chamber and took the gun off safety.

"One thing lead to another," Hardy told the woman without elaborating, according to the affidavit.

Hardy was on parole and had a criminal history dating from at least 1984, when he was sentenced to 13 years in prison on a burglary conviction, according to the Indiana Department of Correction.

Curry said Moore was shot between his patrol car and Hardy's car and it appears both men were outside of their vehicles at the time. He said Moore did not draw or fire his weapon.

A blind man who lives near the shooting scene told investigators he heard four gunshots, followed by a pause and then three more shots, the affidavit states.

Hardy's female acquaintance told investigators that he told her that after the shooting, he backed his car around the fallen officer's car and drove away, the affidavit says. That car was later found abandoned.

Hardy was arrested later Sunday after a store robbery that occurred less than an hour after the shooting.

Curry said his office would decide within about a month whether to seek the death penalty. He says prosecutors will consult with Moore's parents, both of whom are police officers.

Moore's father, retired Lt. Spencer Moore, and his mother, Sgt. Jo Moore, said Wednesday that they wanted to celebrate Moore's life and that the suspect was not in their thoughts. They called their son a gentle man who loved being an officer and protecting the public.

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Moore's funeral will be Tuesday at Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis, followed by burial at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Hardy had been released on bond last month following an arrest on theft charges after his parole officer failed to enter his most recent parole information into a national database.

Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison said the parole officer also didn't perform required monthly checks to determine whether Hardy had been arrested. That parole officer was suspended without pay Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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