Whitfield family responds to IMPD body camera footage
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Herman Whitfield III’s family says the bodycam video released Tuesday by Indianapolis police does not tell the whole truth of his death.
They want the whole unedited video released.
Whitfield died after his mother called 911 in the early hours of April 25. His mother called 911 after her son had some sort of an episode and she needed an ambulance. His parents and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers had difficulty subduing Whitfield. Her son was eventually tasered, and died.
The family statement reads, “The critical incident video (CIV) is biased in that it selectively includes narration and text to present a false narrative of what happened and leaves out important points which should be acknowledge by IMPD but which the CIV shows.”
David Greene, a pastor and the president of Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, agrees. “I would hope that law enforcement doesn’t want to hide what might be an ugly thing, you need to at least share it. Because that gives people the belief and confidence you’re going to be honest with me.”
The family says the edited video on YouTube visually leaves out an important piece to the story. The family statement reads; “The CIV narration and text are also revealing for what they leaves out. While one can clearly hear on the video Herman calling out four times, “I can’t breathe” the narration and included text are silent on this and fail to mention it.”
Greene says there are a lot of questions surrounding the video released by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. “This video was obviously spliced together. It does raise the issue of obviously IMPD is going to create for their best interest what parts are missing, so it does create a number of questions,” Greene said.
The Whitfield family closes its statement by saying, “The Whitfield family calls on IMPD to honestly respond to these important issues and not present a biased and false narrative of Herman’s death. All body cam videos should be released, and IMPD should honestly respond to the misconduct of its officers which led to Herman’s death.”
Greene says one of the most important things is making sure real change comes out of this surrounding mental health situations
“We have to be a better city than that. We have to address that, and you can’t run from that issue. We have to own it across the board. That means leadership has to own it, community has to own it and say, ‘OK, we’re better than that. What do we have to do differently?’” the pastor said.
Mental health resources
- Be Well Indiana
- Indiana Suicide Prevention
- Indiana Department of Child Services’ Children’s Mental Health Initiative
- National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988 or 800-273-8255
- More resources
“The family of Herman Whitfield III responds to IMPD’s release of the Critical Incident Video (CIV) with two major points. First, the video is a selective and biased account of the events. Second, the entire body cam videos capturing the events of April 25, 2022, leading to Herman’s death should be released. To date IMPD has refused to release the entirety of the videos to the family or to the public.
“The CIV is biased in that it selectively includes narration and text to present a false narrative of what happened and leaves out important points which should be acknowledge by IMPD but which the CIV shows.
“For example, the CIV narration and text says that after about 10 minutes of not responding to the officers, Herman rushed into the kitchen and started throwing items around. The only item Herman threw was when he picked up an empty plastic water pitcher, and was told to put it down, and in response he tossed it into the air. He did not throw anything at anybody. Second, the narration and text says Herman rushed towards an officer, but Herman was simply moving from room to room. Officer Sanchez’s body cam clearly shows the officer laying in wait in the dining room with his taser pointed at the open kitchen door, waiting for Herman to come into the dining room, and then he shot him with the Taser when he did. Herman did not rush anybody.
“The CIV narration and text are also revealing for what they leaves out. While one can clearly hear on the video Herman calling out four times, “I can’t breathe” the narration and included text are silent on this and fail to mention it. While IMPD says its officers are trained to quickly sit restrained individuals up from a prone position to facilitate breathing, the narration and text do not mention this, and do fail to note that officers leave Herman in the prone position with weight on his back for over three minutes until medics arrive.
“Mr. Whitfield did not present a danger to the officers, and there was no need to taser him. Moreover, the officers violated their own training in keeping Mr. Whitfield handcuffed face down after he was restrained, and after he had told them he couldn’t breathe, and when he was not moving or breathing, which led to this death. For over twenty-five years, the policing community has agreed that officers should not keep a restrained individual in the prone position because of the significant risk of positional asphyxia, i.e., suffocation because of body position. Mr. Whitfield, who was in his family home, needed professional mental health care, not the use of excessive deadly force.
“The Whitfield family calls on IMPD to honestly respond to these important issues and not present a biased and false narrative of Herman’s death. All body cam videos should be released, and IMPD should honestly respond to the misconduct of its officers which led to Herman’s death.”
Lawyers Israel Nunez Cruz and Richard A. Waples
“INDIANAPOLIS — June 28, 2022 — Today, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department released an edited video summary related to the April 25 death of Herman Whitfield while in IMPD custody. In response, Chrystal Ratcliffe, president of the Greater Indianapolis NAACP, issued the following statement:
“‘Our prayers go out to Herman Whitfield’s family, who called 911 when their son was apparently having a crisis. The edited video snippet released today is difficult to watch. While this is still in active investigation and litigation, it pains us to witness the death of this young man. This incident renews our commitment to work for more medically-trained resource officers who are available around the clock. We will be closely monitoring investigations by IMPD Internal Affairs, the Use of Force Review Board, and the Marion County Prosecutor’s office to ensure that each process is fair, just and transparent.’”
Jodi Perras, communications committee chair, Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch