A midnight alarm tripped in the garage, waking a snoozing postal worker in Indiana. He grabbed his .45 pistol and darted downstairs, where he went Dirty Harry and squeezed off three rounds, downing the fleeing burglar with a body shot.
“I was 112 yards running down a dark alley when I got shot,” David Bailey, the surviving man who copped to the botched burglary, told The Daily Beast. “I had my back turned and he shot at me three times.”
Last week was Bailey's payback.
Free after serving a year in an Indiana state big house for the crime, Bailey fired back at postal worker David McLaughlin with a lawsuit that was first reported by The Indianapolis Star. The suit, filed last week, seeks to recoup money he claims he’s out after surgery and financial setbacks as a result of the shooting.
Bailey believes after what happened to him on April 21, 2014, in a dark alley in Albany, Indiana, he deserves to be compensated “for all damages.”
That’s going to be well over $100,000, Bailey said.
“My medical bills and my pain and suffering,” he told us. “[McLaughlin] didn’t get shit out of it for shooting somebody.”
In the lawsuit, the now-31-year-old machinist Bailey claims McLaughlin, now 33, who was also convicted in September of 2014 by a six-member jury for criminal recklessness, had maintained his innocence on social media.
“Been waiting since May 22nd to prove I did nothing wrong and my day to do so is almost here,” the mailman posted, in an attempt to command a major show of solidarity during his trial.
McLaughlin refused to comment on this story and referred all questions to his attorney.
Bailey, who has sole custody of his two sons, ages 10 and 12, believes he will never be whole again. “I can’t lift nothing. I can’t make a fist. I can’t do nothing with it. I got a crow’s feet for hands; my fingers are like curling up.”
The events on the night of incident remain murky, and depend on whom you’re talking to.
Bailey claims he “never entered [McLaughlin’s] garage” but was innocently walking down a dark alley before he was chased down by the gun-toting letter carrier who “continued firing his weapon down the dark alley,” The Star Press reported. However, during his own trial Bailey admitted he did in fact set foot in McLaughlin’s garage before fleeing when he saw the gun.
Bailey walked back to the moment when he was huffing for his life.
The machinist says he was heading to visit a mystery friend, whom he says was also walking down the alley with him as a shortcut to a nearby home to prep for a fishing trip.
“I was going to that guy’s house to get some fishing poles and we were gonna go fishing and then this guy decided to do that dumb shit,” Bailey said. “He walked in [the garage] and I kept on walking down the alley.”
“He didn’t say a word—he just walked up there,” Bailey said. “I told him ‘Come on!’ and he went in instead.” When pressed, Bailey refused to name the man he says was the one who tried to rip off McLaughlin.
Bailey maintains that he wouldn’t stoop so low to risk everything just to filch some lawnmowers or tools. “I didn’t need no part of that,” he said. “I’m a supervisor at my job. I moved to Albany. My life was going good.”
But when his mystery friend slipped into the detached garage through a side door, Bailey said, he somehow he set off the alarm.
And that set off McLaughlin.
“He came running out his yard chasing down the alley and shooting into the dark,” Bailey said. “He shot a lot. I didn’t think he was going to shoot at us. I thought he was going to shoot up in the air until I heard [bullets] flying past my head.”
Bailey said he and his unnamed friend split up.
And that’s exactly where McLaughlin unloaded.
“I was just gone. Would you have asked anything if someone is shooting at you? What are you gonna do? You’re gonna run,” he stressed. “The other guy ran in between the apartment and the house and I just took off running down the alley.”
Bailey claims the shots were aimless.
“He could have shot into a house and hit a kid—he could have shot anybody,” Bailey suggested. “He just shot down a dark black alley with houses all around.
“He didn’t know what he was shooting at or who he was shooting at—he was just was shooting down a dark alley hoping he’d hit something.”
That something was him.
“The bullet went through the back of my arm up by my muscle and hit very right near my artery,” he said. “I’m very lucky I’m alive. Two inches over and he would have hit the artery.”
When he was lying in a pool of his own blood he didn’t think about medics or God.
“I called my mother,” he said. “I thought I was going to die until she got there.”
Even after going under the knife to fix his shoulder, Bailey, the self-professed “hard worker” with a stent in his artery, says the pain remains. “I can’t feel the whole left side of my hand. I have no grip,” he said of his left shoulder. “It hurts every day. It’s just numb and feels like somebody’s standing on it.”
Bailey says Jay County prosecutors leaned on him to plead guilty to the burglary to make another, more serious charge go away. That charge, according to The Star Press, involved carrying a handgun without a permit and theft of a firearm.
McLaughlin’s lawyer disputes Bailey’s claim and says that Bailey is trying to go back on his sworn confession in court and under oath. “The only reason why he is changing his story now is for his own financial benefit.”
“I had this case beat,” Bailey said. “The only reason I had to plead guilty to the burglary charge was because I had another charge pending, and it was a lot more serious charge.”
He said prosecutors convinced him to take the burglarly rap. “If I had a part of it it would be different. But I was not going to be found guilty for this. They said, ‘If you plead guilty for the one we won’t give you the other one.’”
At Bailey’s trial, The Star Press reported that he did try convince jurors that he wasn’t alone, and that another man (not him) had broken into the garage. He also tried to tell cops a whopper that his gunshot wound was caused by his dog knocking his gun off a table.
Bailey said he felt some poetic justice in November when he sat in the courtroom and watched McLaughlin get convicted of criminal recklessness, a Class D felony that carries over a year in prison.
The day before he appeared to be sentenced after a jury found him culpable (McLaughlin dodged jail time when the judge later downgraded the charge) McLaughlin had tried to rally support online, proclaiming: “I have sentencing tomorrow at the jay county courthouse @ 230 pm on the 3rd floor superior court. If you can please come out for it. My lawyer said it is open to the public and is wanting me to have as many supporters as possible.”
“I was feeling good,” Bailey said of the moment McLaughlin was found to be in the wrong. “I had me, my mom and my girlfriend and he had the whole courtroom filled thinking he was going to be found not guilty.”
Whatever he might savor, Bailey’s story seems shaky, according to McLaughlin’s defenders. Foremost is his timeline and that story about the mystery man.
“This is a last-minute Hail Mary,” Brian Pierce, McLaughlin’s attorney, told us. “He swore under oath last summer in his criminal case that he did in fact enter the garage… So he’s either lying then or he’s lying now, but my belief is he’s lying now for financial gain.”
And the nature of Bailey’s confessed burglary is nothing to balk at. “We’re not talking about going down for misdemeanor pot possession here,” Pierce said.
Bailey claimed in our interview that he didn’t turn the “real” culprit in, whoever he is.
“I just kind of stayed to myself,” he said when quizzed about what he did when investigators asked him to produce his friend. “I just kind of, you know—I knew I wasn’t in there so I kind of left it at that.”
He also claims his lawsuit against McLaughlin was already in the works shortly after he took the postal worker’s bullet.
“I had the lawsuit going before I ever even got a charge,” Bailey said. “After I filed the lawsuit on him—when I first got shot I hadn’t got charged until two months later.
“And then I filed the lawsuit on him and then all of a sudden the cops come to my house.”
Having just pled to the second highest level of felony in Indiana and being that McLaughin has a squeaky clean record and Baily’s rap sheet is “ten pages long” Pierce calls Bailey’s story pure make-believe.
“A reasonable person would say, ‘Oh, my buddy John Smith did it. I’ll show you where he lives. I’m not going down for that… If I’m going down for burglary that I didn’t commit my buddy’s going with me.’”
At his trial, according to the The Star Press, McLaughlin claims he verbally warned Bailey to “Stop’ and “Freeze” to no avail.
Bailey maintains McLaughlin “didn’t say anything” before blasting.
McLaughlin—who has resumed mail duties the U.S. Postal Service—went on to tell the jury he’d installed the alarm because his son’s bicycle had been stolen a year before—and that he fired at the unarmed Bailey because he was “scared” that the invader was toting a weapon.
“I thought he was aiming back to shoot me,” he said.
Still, Pierce, who describes his client as “quiet and unassuming” doesn’t deny McLaughlin might have done things differently that night.
“I think he’s pretty solid in his belief that what he did was the right to do,” the lawyer said of McLaughlin’s belief he feared for his life. “Because everything that happened would he defend his property again given everything that has gone with it—I don’t know.”