Crime Watch 8

Herman Whitfield III’s family shares body camera footage from night he died

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The family of Herman Whitfield III has released new body camera footage from the night he died in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department custody.

According to the family, the new video released Saturday evening shows the unedited version of what happened on April 25.

Whitfield died after police used a stun gun to subdue him when police were called to his home on reports of a mental health crisis.

IMPD in June released an edited version of the video via YouTube, but the family claims that video created a false narrative of the events that night. Below in this story, a link to the family’s video follows the family’s latest statement.

According to the family, its video shows Whitfield was restrained face down and claimed he couldn’t breathe.

Whitfield can be heard saying that in the video, and, rather than attacking the police, the family says Whitfield actively avoided them.

Whitfield died of cardiac arrest when police tasered him.

His family hopes the footage will prove that Whitfield’s death was not an accident.

Statement

“The family of Herman Whitfield III has finally obtained the police body cam videos of their son’s death and is releasing them to the public. This release is in response to IMPD’s prior release of its Critical Incident Video (CIV), which was a selective and biased account of the events. The family believes the entire body cam videos capturing the events of April 25, 2022, leading to Herman’s death should be released. IMPD refused to release the videos, and unsuccessfully sought to keep them away from the family and public. The family successfully obtained a court order requiring the videos to be released to the family and denying the City’s request for a protective order to keep them secret.

The family is also releasing a compilation of the six body cam videos, with captioning and IMPD General Orders interspersed. This video counters IMPD’s CIV, which inaccurately stated that Herman was dangerous, was throwing things, and rushed an officer. The body cam videos conclusively show that Herman was vulnerable, unarmed, naked, undergoing a mental health crisis, and never threatened the officers either verbally or physically. Rather than rushing towards an officer, the videos show that Herman was attempting to avoid them, even immediately before he was shot with the taser.

The CIV’s false narrative also failed to include what can be heard on the body cam videos, that Herman repeatedly cried out that he couldn’t breathe. The CIV also failed to acknowledge that IMPD’s General Orders require officers to immediately reposition a restrained individual out of a prone position to facilitate breathing and to prevent positional asphyxiation. The officers failed to do this.

Herman Whitfield, III, did not present a danger to the officers, and there was no need to taser him. Mr. Whitfield, who was in his family home, needed professional mental health care, not the use of excessive deadly force. Moreover, the officers violated their own training in keeping Mr. Whitfield handcuffed face down after he was restrained; after he told them he couldn’t breathe; and when he was not moving or breathing, which led to this death. As the Marion County Coroner has ruled, Herman’s death was a “Homicide,” caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest in the setting of law enforcement subdual, prone restraint, and conducted electrical weapon use.”

The Whitfield family also asks all who can attend to join them at the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Rally, on Martin Luther King Day, January 16, 2023, at noon on Monument Circle, Indianapolis, IN.”

The family of Herman Whitfield III

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Statement

IMPD turned over the necessary materials to all of the parties involved in this lawsuit, and that includes officer body-worn-camera footage. Out of respect for the judicial process, we do not comment on pending litigation.

Right now, a separate administrative investigation is being conducted by IMPD Internal Affairs. The officers involved in this incident remain on administrative duty.

At the conclusion of the criminal investigation and any criminal proceedings, the civilian-majority Use of Force Review Board will review the criminal and administrative investigations and make a recommendation to the Chief of Police on whether the officer’s actions were in compliance with department policies and training.

Based on a careful review of the facts and the Use of Force Board’s feedback, Chief Taylor will consider discipline up to a recommendation of termination to the IMPD Civilian Police Merit Board.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

Video (discretion advised)

A YouTube video was released Jan. 14 by the law firm representing the family of Herman Whitfield III. The video contains graphic and disturbing images. Discretion is advised. 

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