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Herman Whitfield III’s family demands full video release in federal court

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The family of Herman Whitfield III took to federal court Monday to demand the release of the full, unedited version of the body camera videos that show the night their son died.

Herman Whitfield III died in March when police used a stun gun to subdue home after they were called to his home on reports of a mental health crisis.

“Why would the truth be prejudicial, if the truth of the unedited video is showing what occurred?,” Gladys Whitfield, Herman Whitfield III’s mother, said. “And what occurred was abuse, brutality, excessive use of force, violation of policy. That’s what it is.”

The attorney representing the city of Indianapolis and the individual officers involved in the case, Anthony Overholt, argued IMPD has not finished the review process and releasing the full video beforehand creates “prejudice” against the officers.

Overholt said it would be “premature” because there are currently no pending criminal charges against the officers.

“The city left out of its version … that their officers violated their own policy with respect to handcuffing and leaving a person in a prone position after they’re handcuffed. And they’re going to position their own policies on tasering people that don’t present an immediate danger to them of physical harm,” Richard Waples, the attorney for the Whitfield family, said.

Waples said in court that the defendants have had plenty of time to review the case, often citing the edited version of the video released by IMPD in June. However, Overholt stated that it was the city’s decision to release that version of the video, not the officers.

Waples questions if there is a conflict with Overholt representing both the city and the officers at the same time.

“The city’s lawyer wanted to make some distinction that oh, well, it was the city’s decision to release his bias, a narrative version of the body cams. You can’t hold that against the officer as well,” Waples said. “You know, officers are employed by the city.” 

Overholt did not take questions from the media after the hearing.

The judge is currently taking the hearing “under advisement.” There is no timeline on when the judge will make a decision on releasing the video.

The Whitfield family has had the opportunity to watch it in full, but says it was too hard to watch.

“I’m just hoping and praying that justice prevails,’ Herman Whitfield Jr., Herman Whitfield III’s father, said. “They’re asking for more time but my son only had nine and a half minutes. So I think they had a lot more time than my son.” 

Whenever they do get the full version of the video they will make a decision at the time if they should release it to the public, Waples said.

The city has until Nov. 28 to respond to the request or to file a stay.