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Attorney talks about video of Indianapolis man who died in IMPD custody

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Herman Whitfield III died in his parents’ home in April.

His death was captured on body worn cameras.

Indianapolis police released some of the video on YouTube a month after Whitfield’s death, but his family wanted all of the video released, and a court ordered the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to hand over the video.

The last words from Whitfield are captured on video as the 39-year-old man lay dying on the floor of his parents’ home. His parents believe that the six IMPD officers at their house on April 25 all contributed to their son’s death. The family released its own video of police body camera footage through their attorney to show what they believe IMPD did not show. Below in this story, find a link to the family’s video.

“It confirms certain things that we already knew, but it also reveals things that IMPD’s selective video did not show. So, it shows Herman vulnerable, naked, unarmed, nonthreatening to the officers, trying to avoid them at every chance including when they tasered him” said Richard Waples, Whitfield family attorney, in a conversation with I-Team 8 on Monday.

Very early on that April morning, Whitfield ‘s parents called 911 for an ambulance. Herman was in the middle of an emotional crisis, and his parents could not console him. The first officers in the house tried to get him to put on some shorts for a trip to the hospital. As police approached him in his room, he took off running through the kitchen, he tries to grab a pan or a bottle of water, and then falls to the floor, pulling a tablecloth to the ground with him.

According to the video released by the family, an officer fires a stun gun, giving Whitfield two bursts of electricity. Next, the officers hold him down to put handcuffs on him.

“It is really shocking to see because Herman, again, he doesn’t fight the officers at all. He is shocked and is just flailing around, but they get his arms cuffed up in fairly short order, and he is saying he can’t breathe, even yet they are on top of him still and they don’t move him over. He is not moving after that,” Waples said. 

According to the coroner’s report, Whitfield’s heart stopped while being restrained by police right after being stunned. 

“And he doesn’t appear to be breathing. No body checks for a pulse. No body checks for his breathing, including one officer, he is a rookie officer, asks if they should move him over, and the other officer says, ‘No, we are not going to do that,” Waples said. 

The coroner report says CPR was started by medics approximately three minutes later.

Whitfield’s lawyer says CPR and chest compressions were started more than five minutes later.

Whitfield died at the hospital 45 minutes later.

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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