Officer Matt John Faber, 24, was critically wounded by a gunshot Sunday, August 14, 1988, after responding to a disturbance in the 2900 block of Arthington Boulevard. Officer Faber was transported to Wishard Memorial Hospital where he was treated for a gunshot wound to the upper back. His left lung and chest cavity severely damaged, he died in the hospital's intensive care unit nine days later at 7:30 pm on August 23.
Officer Faber had been dispatched at the end of a hot summer day on a complaint of a disturbance between Fred Sanders and a neighbor that stemmed from Sanders allowing his two dogs to run through the neighborhood, chasing children. Responding to the scene shortly before 9:30 pm, Officer Faber spoke with the complainant who lived across the street from Sanders. Officer Faber then radioed for assistance and went to the Sanders' residence.
While outside the residence, Officer Faber and Fred Sanders engaged in a verbal confrontation that escalated into a physical struggle between the 160 pound officer and 265 pound Sanders. By the time back-up officers had arrived, Sanders had retreated into his home, blocking the door. Attempting to affect an arrest, the officers entered the residence where they were confronted by Sanders who had retrieved a 12-gauge shotgun from a back bedroom. When the officers turned to exit the residence Officer Faber was shot by Sanders at close range, taking the full blast from the shotgun in his upper back. The back-up officers returned fire, striking Sanders in the chest and legs, and pulled Officer Faber out of the residence for medical treatment.
Sanders was transported to Wishard Hospital in stable condition where he was treated and later transferred to jail. Originally charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter, he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in January 1989, a charge carrying a sentence of seven years. He was released from prison in December 1993.
Officer Faber was a 1982 graduate of Ben Davis High School and a member of the 1981 State High School baseball team. He earned a degree from Indiana University - Purdue University at Indianapolis in 1986. Prior to joining the police department, he began his student teaching career and coached baseball for Wayne Township.
Appointed to the Police Department on June 2, 1987, he was in his second year with department at the time of his death and had been assigned as a patrol officer to Quadrant II. Perhaps due to the heat of the day, Officer Faber was not wearing his bulletproof vest on the night he was shot.
Services for Officer Faber were held at the Feeney-Hornak Westgate Mortuary. An overflow crowd of mourners gathered around a loudspeaker in the mortuary's parking lot to listen as Police Chief Paul Annee remembered "his smiles, his sense of humor, his ability to lift a friend's spirits at the end of the day." Officers wearing the uniforms of departments from throughout central Indiana filed past the casket. Near the coffin were photos of Officer Faber and his wife, Jan, an IPD officer assigned to the department's north side.
After the service, hundreds of cars drove slowly downtown, following the hearse past police headquarters at 50 N. Alabama Street. The procession ended at Floral Park West Cemetery for burial.
In December 2011, twenty-three years after the death of Officer Faber, his wife (a sergeant with the department) dedicated a memorial to him outside the building where he had reported to duty. Beside a large boulder on which is engraved his badge number, the date he was sworn in, and the day he died, is a sturdy bench and a new tree. "It's a way to honor him every day and keep his memory alive as long as possible," said his widow who remembers her husband as "a proud officer, a man dedicated to his job, a man with a big heart and also a comedian in any room. . . Someone Indianapolis should never forget."